Centrally located in the Historic District, the building which serves as the Evans Tinsmith Shop was originally located on the Princeton Plantation in Northampton County. This one story, single room, old Post Office building was moved to its current site in the late 1990s.
Around 1877 or 1878, Richard Evans, a tinsmith from Petersburg, Virginia, came to Murfreesboro and opened a tin shop in a building near the corner of College and Main Streets.
Richard conducted businesses there until he died in 1905. Richard’s son, John, continued operating the shop for more than 60 years following his father’s death.
The tin shop tools and fixtures were subsequently inherited by John’s daughters, Elva and Rachel. They, in turn, generously donated the entire collection to the Murfreesboro Historical Association.
It is unusual to find a collection as complete as this one, and it is probably one of the best in the Southeast. The original patterns, in particular, are very extensive; for example, there are patterns for a variety of coffee and tea pots, including bodies, spouts and handles. Also, there are patterns for scoops in six sizes, and each in three parts – body, handle and gusset (soldered to the handle and body to stiffen the handle).
The bulk of the tools are from the 1860s and 1880s on up to the early twentieth century. Early in the period, shops of this kind produced primarily utilitarian items such a kitchenware. Later, the shop turned out piping for wood burning stoves and also installed roofing. There are tools here for all of these activities. The large number and range of roofing tools indicates that a crew of men was involved.
“The collection of tools is certainly one of the most comprehensive I have ever seen,” stated Tom Cowan, of the Old Salem Education Department.