The Mule Barn
The Mule Barn was first constructed in 1914 to house the mules required for construction of the initial plants. Unknowingly, this building would be retrofitted to fill various roles required by the aluminum company and the surrounding community once construction had been completed. It would serve roles ranging from a schoolhouse to an office building.
Backstory and Context
In 1914, a barn was built on this property to house teams of mules used in construction of the first plant buildings. This building would come to be known as the mule barn, and around it, the Bassel community grew. It was named after Guy Mannering “G. M.” Bassel, a civil engineer involved in the construction of Company facilities in East Tennessee, beginning with surveying property for the dam sites in 1911, surveying the original tract that would become the City of Alcoa, and then serving as a construction engineer for the erection of plant buildings, streets, and utilities. From 1920 to 1929 he served as city engineer.
The children who lived in the Bassel community initially attended City of Maryville schools. In 1918, shortly before commencement of the new school year, Maryville officials notified the Company that Maryville would no longer be able to accept Bassel students due to overcrowding. The Mule Barn was hastily converted to a school, known as the Aluminum Company of America School. It was later named Bassel School—that name being carried over to the new Bassel school building in 1923. When the new school building was opened, the Mule Barn became home to various Company offices on the first floor, and later, on the second floor, the City of Alcoa municipal offices.
Duggan, David R.. Williams, George. Alcoa, Images of America. Alcoa, Tennessee. Arcadia Publishing, 2011.