Phoenix Building (17)


418 South Gay Street

The Phoenix Building lives up to its name. Like the legendary phoenix that rose from the ashes, this site has endured two devastating fires. The first building, ornamented with a stone phoenix on top, was burned in April 1897, during “The Million Dollar Fire” that destroyed an entire block of Gay Street.

In 1899, the current building was constructed to house Cullen & Newman Queensware Wholesalers. In 1900, the legendary editor William Rule wrote in his book, Standard History of Knoxville, Tennessee, “The finest building of the whole is the Phoenix… the highest building on Gay Street and, in fact, in the city of Knoxville.”

During the building’s history, many different people have possessed and used it for many different purposes. Previous owners include a former Confederate prisoner of war, a former FBI agent, and Fowlers Furniture, which was located here for 50 years.

On December 29, 1999, 11 years after Fowlers Furniture moved out and 100 years after its rebirth, this Phoenix Building also faced fire. As a result, the top two floors and roof were devastated and renovations were required. The renovations were completed by local developers Wayne Blasius and Skip Bibb. During the renovation, and completely unaware of the building’s original name, the new owners decided to call it The Phoenix.

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