Downtown Clinton preserves a sense of history that includes a former government building. It's a place that used to smell like paper but now features the scents of candles and flowers - the main post office.

When it was built about 80 years ago, it was a place to send letters but now it is a place to send flowers.

"We bought the building about 22 years ago and have kind of transformed things where it is more of a home decor and floral shop now," Sam Franklin said.

Franklin moved his floral business into the 8,000-square-foot building because he needed more space.

"Moving in here gave us one whole floor for just showroom and then another completely different floor where we do our work," Franklin said.

The work at Samuel Franklin Floral Design happens in the basement with thick cement walls. It is sometimes referred to as the fallout shelter.

The post office didn't even use that space, but now the cool temperature is perfect for arranging fresh flowers and there is plenty of storage.

Franklin has put his own stamp on the use of the building but the bones of the post office remain.

"Many people here in town still tease us as they come in the door that they want to buy stamps. Immediately you're going to see those front areas where the clerk would have waited on you and sold you stamps where the post office boxes would have been and even the Postmaster's office which I kind of use as an office when I meet with brides or clients," he said. "Even the safe is still intact. And we do have the combination to the safe somewhere. I can't tell you where it is today. We just don't ever lock that safe because there is no money is there." 

The shop features fresh flowers and plants, artificial flowers and more.

"There are small pieces of furniture, there are lamps, there are accessories. We do a lot of interior design for some restaurant chains and individuals as well. It is a neat experience and it always changing due to the seasons," Franklin said.

He's committed to keeping the historic building as close to its original design as possible.

"When we enclosed our loading dock area, which is now our plant room, we wanted it to look as though it was something that was original to the building. So nothing kind of crazy. And then we always want to be sure that the integrity of the building is kept in place," he said.

The design was a standard government floor plan for post offices in the 1930s and 1940s. You will see identical building across the country, including one in Sevierville.