Lawson McGhee Library / Rebori Building (2)


128 South Gay Street

Built for an estimated cost of $50,000, this Vernacular Commercial building was constructed to house the Lawson McGhee Library. Built by Knoxville railroad magnate Col. Charles McClung McGhee as a memorial to his daughter, Lawson, the building was to provide permanent quarters to the then struggling private library association. The cornerstone was laid July 25, 1885, and the library opened to the public on October 28, 1886. It was intended to be funded by rent from the building itself; the first floor was reserved for retail.

Originally, the structure included a gabled slate roof with a series of three windows directly above an arched center window on the third floor. The main reading room was located on the second floor. The original roof was lost to a fire in 1904.

In 1915, the building was sold at auction to Fiorenzo E. Rebori, an Italian immigrant who had long been a retail tenant of the library, selling fruit and confections from a sidewalk stand. When Rebori died in 1946, he had been in business here more than half a century.

Rebori’s descendants owned the building until 1999, when it was purchased by Jim and Glenda Jo Mason and converted into a residence with retail space on the ground floor.

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