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Showing posts from 2014

308 S. Gay St. - The McGhee Building - The Gaps of Gay Street Part 2

The last installation of Knoxville Lost and Found's "Gaps of Gay Street" series focused on 322 S. Gay St., the "Terminal Building." This time we are heading north, passing the "Century Building," and landing on the next hole in the Gay Street fabric, 308. We're also going to focus on a building that I initially thought was gone, but later discovered is still there hiding in plain sight. We'll get to that later. This story starts out with a trip back to gilded age Knoxville and one of its most illustrious citizens Charles McClung McGhee.



I could not even begin to delve into the person that was C.M. McGhee. His influence in this region was vast and still affects us to this day. If you would like to know as much as possible about Mr. McGhee, William MacArthur wrote the definitive dissertation and you can find it here. The short version is that Mr. McGhee made a lot of money starting in the railroad business and becoming a financier and smart inve…

322 S. Gay St. - The Terminal Building - The Gaps of Gay Street Part 1

If you have lived in Knoxville for any length of time, or if you've just eaten at the Downtown Grill and Brewery, then you have without a doubt heard of the "Million Dollar Fire of 1897." That fire destroyed much of the east side of the 300 and 400 blocks of Gay Street. Firefighters came from as far away as Chattanooga to battle the blaze, which threatened to burn down the entire city. With the ruins smoldering, city leaders declared it the greatest loss the city had ever suffered. However, times were optimistic and the business community vowed the next day to rebuild the structures better than before. Most of them were rebuilt, bigger and better, within five years.



From the ashes of the fire, rose many of the iconic structures we see today on the 300 and 400 blocks. Identifying them by their current businesses, the buildings that hold Sapphire, Downtown Grill and Brewery, the Art Market, the Phoenix (Clayton Bank), and Mast General Store were all built as replacements …