Tennessee State University, Nashville, TN
Marr & Holman, Architects
1897 - 1970

This architectural firm was established in 1897 by Thomas Marr, who was joined by partner Joseph Holman in 1910. Marr was born in Nashville, Tennessee, in 1866. A case of Scarlet Fever left him deaf at the age of three. He attended Gallaudet College, in Washington, D.C., earning a B.S. in 1889. Following graduation, Marr returned to Nashville to work as a draftsman for local architect George Thompson for two years before studying architecture at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. After a year of study, he returned to Nashville to work again as a draftsman for the firm Thompson & Gibel. In 1897 Marr opened his own firm, operating from the city’s old Chamber of Commerce building and focusing on residential design. In 1904 the thirteen-year-old Joseph Holman joined the firm as an office boy. He quickly rose through the ranks to become Marr’s partner in 1910, and the firm was hence known as Marr & Holman, Architects. Marr was principally responsible for design and drafting, while Holman secured commissions and managed clients. With the formation of the partnership, the firm’s focus shifted from residential to commercial and industrial buildings, including public schools, theaters, hotels, and hospitals. Notable projects include the United States Postal Office (now the Frist Center, 1934) in Nashville and the Tennessee Supreme Court Building (1937), as well as multiple buildings on the campus of Tennessee State University. The firm enjoyed increasing success during the 1920s and 1930s, and its roster of draftsmen and engineers expanded significantly. One such hire was Richard Reynolds, an engineer who rose quickly within the practice. Marr died from a stroke in 1936. Holman continued to direct the firm until his death in 1952. Leadership then passed to Reynolds, who retired in 1970, ending the practice.