The Temperence Building was completed on September 12, 1891 by the East Tennessee Land Company and used as their offices during the time the city of Harriman was being founded. The building was later acquired by the American University of Harriman and became later known as the American Temperence University. Placed on the National Register Listing in 1971, the building has been used in various ways, including city municipal complex, office space, and currently is used to house the Harriman Historic Museum as well as offices for the local TN State Representative and Senator.
Described as "Richardson Romanesque", the Temperence Building retains a high degree of its original form and materials. Only minor exterior and interior modifications have been made to tis original design.
The City of Harriman has been proud and supportive of their historical identity. A historical district makes up the downtown area as new merchants are being actively sought and attracted by the city. Just steps from the downtown area, lies Cornstalk Heights Historical Community. Built around the same time as the Temperence Building, the community features many beautiful Victorian and turn of the century homes done in a grand style. A walking tour of the community is available as well as annual functions, such as a Ghost Tour and Christmas Tour of Homes.