A fire has destroyed a historic research center in New Market, Tennessee, just east of Knoxville.

The Highlander Research Center, which was founded in Monteagle in 1932, and later moved to its new location in 1972.

The center played a pivotal role in the civil rights movement.

 Channel 3's John Martin visited the original Highlander Center in Feburary of this year.

Conversations there at Highlander sparked new ideas about social justice.

The fire destroyed one of 10 buildings on around 200 acres, the center explained. The building was where the offices of the organization's staff and leadership were located.

The Highlander Center released the following statement about the fire:

"Highlander has been a movement home for nearly 87 years and has weathered many storms. This is no different. Several people were on the grounds at the time of the fire, but thankfully no one was inside the structure and no one was injured.

While we are physically unhurt, we are saddened about the loss of our main office. The fire destroyed decades of historic documents, speeches, artifacts and memorabilia from movements of all kids, including the Civil Rights Movement. A fuller assessment of the damage will be forthcoming once we are cleared to enter the remains of the building.

We are grateful for the support of the many movements who are now showing up for us in this critical time. This has been a space for training, strategy and respite for decades and it will continue to be for decades to come.

Fire officials are working to determine the cause as quickly as possible and we are monitoring the investigation closely."


The Tennessee State Fire Marshal's Office is investigating the cause.