Todd DeFeo

Poston Building in Clarksville, known as billboard, has deep history

The Poston Building in Clarksville, Tenn. (Photo by Todd DeFeo)

CLARKSVILLE, Tenn. — John H. Poston and James Huling almost assuredly did not realize the history they would be making in 1808 when they acquired land from James Huling.

More than a quarter-century later, in 1842 or 1843, Poston would build a block of three buildings on this plot of land overlooking the Cumberland River. These buildings, known as the Poston Building or Poston Block, remain the oldest buildings erected for commercial use in this Middle Tennessee city.

The building, situated on the northwest corner of the Clarksville Public Square, features three individual storefronts. Though the architect of the Poston Buildings is lost to history, the building is said to bear a striking resemblance to edifices in Philadelphia dating to the mid-19th century.

Poston, who died in 1848, had a long civic career in Clarksville. He helped start the Clarksville Male Academy in 1820, was elected mayor in 1830 and later founded the Branch Bank of Tennessee in Clarksville and also the Clarksville Marine Insurance and Trust Co.

In 1836, he became the postmaster in Clarksville. But, his most enduring legacy is the Poston Building.

The buildings have been home to a number of businesses over the year. Among the many businesses to operate in the row include a grocery store, a furniture dealer and an undertaker.

By 1971, Torino Cigar Co., which operated from 1963 until 1987, called the Poston Building home.

Interestingly, the Virginia-born Poston moved to Clarksville in 1805. His business partner, King, died in 1808, the same year another Clarksville institution, The Leaf-Chronicle newspaper, was founded.

About Todd DeFeo
Todd DeFeo loves to travel anywhere, anytime, taking pictures and notes. An award-winning reporter, Todd revels in the experience and the fact that every place has a story to tell. He is owner of The DeFeo Groupe and also edits Express Telegraph and Railfanning.org.