Major Camp was a significant contributor to Knoxville's growth and prosperity in the late 1800s and early 1900s.
Greystone Mansion, also known as Camp House, was home to Major Camp.
WATE went on the air in 1953 and moved to Greystone in the early 60s.
Major Camp was originally from Ohio and served with the Union Army during the Civil War.
After the war, he made Knoxville his home and was appointed U.S. District Attorney for East Tennessee by President U.S. Grant.
When Major Camp first arrived in Knoxville, the area was merely a small town with only three general stores, a saloon, and two hotels.
After settling into a career as a lawyer and public official, he earned a lucrative income through the coal and marble industry. Camp organized the Coal Creek Coal Company in 1886 and was owner of the Virginia-Tennessee Coal Company in Virginia.
These holdings, along with other properties in Kentucky and Tennessee, made him one of the richest men in East Tennessee.
Major Camp helped build the Knoxville community in many ways. He was a significant contributor to improvements in waterways, the local libraries, and the University of Tennessee.
He also started his own nonprofit charity: Camp’s Home for Friendless Women, which he privately funded.
After 20 years of working to improve the city, Camp began work on Greystone, his elaborate mansion, in 1885.
Major Camp passed away in his home on November 21, 1920 at 2:30 p.m.
Major Camp contracted some of the finest architects to design and work on the house. Alfred B. Mullet, the designer of Greystone, supervised the construction of the mansion, and a Philadelphia architect was paid by Camp to study European castles for ideas in the home.
Gustav Gade was a German stone mason that Camp had relocate to Knoxville to lay the stonework around the mansion. Every stone was personally cut and laid by Gade.
The granite used for Greystone came from Camp’s own quarries in Lake City. It was hauled to the building site by donkeys and mules.
The pink stone trim used around the outside of the windows was brought to Knoxville from North Carolina.
Five years later in 1890, Greystone was completed. The building itself was constructed at a cost of $125,000 in 1890.
The house originally had 21 rooms, stretched up three stories, and was built on 2.65 acres of land.
There were a total of over 150 windows throughout the house. Each was designed with 3 sections of white, mahogany shutters that folded into recesses. The top parts of the windows have stained glass with jewels.
In 1965, these jeweled sections were appraised at a value of $25,000.
The wood varied from room to room, using different types of domestic wood upstairs and imported wood downstairs to create a unique interior layout to the house. Each room contained the types of wood, as follows: Gold Room, Curley Maple; Library, Cherry; Main Hall and Stairway, Oak; Dining Room, English Oak; Upstairs Bedrooms, Blistered Birch; Billiard Room, Chestnut; Downstairs Bedrooms, Cherry; Hallway to Studio, Honduras Mahogany; Window Shutters, Mahogany.
The shutters and storm doors were all handmade. Ornamentation on the mantles and stair railings were carved directly into the wood.
The house was abundant in woodwork, but the wood was not polished. It was simply cleaned with soap and water.
Though the granite and wood were mostly domestic, Major Camp had the marble for the fireplaces imported. Almost every room came with a marble fireplace, and there were 22 different varieties of marble in the house.
The dinning room originally had two fireplaces. European styles were added to the fireplaces by carving ghouls and devils into the mantles.
After Major Camp passed away, family members ran the estate until 1935 when its large size became too difficult to maintain. The family partitioned the house into apartments and auctioned off some of the furniture.
Most of the China and silver and some of the furnishings were preserved by the family.
Tenants painted over the original wood mantles, paneling, and trims. The house remained this way until it was sold to WATE-TV 6.
In the early 1960s, Greystone was on the real estate market for $100,000, but WATE-TV 6 was able to buy it for only $75,000.
During the transition from WATE's old facilities to Greystone, the station renovated the house and restored much of Greystone to its original design. These renovations included repairing termite-infested floors and removing carpet covering the original wood floors.
Greystone was originally 12,900 square feet, but WATE added 13,000 square feet to the back of the house for the current studio.
In 1992, an additional 4,000 square feet was added to the studio area.
Full renovation and restoration of the house took two years and cost $1.5 million. The station preserved the entire first floor, leaving the current floorplan very similar to the original.
In April of 1973, the Tennessee Historical Commission entered Greystone Mansion (under the name “Camp House”) to the United States Department of Interior’s National Register of Historic Places.