The Sterchi Building, in Gay Street’s 100 block, is one of the most recognizable buildings in the city.
In 1888, with only $800 in capital, James, J.C., and E.H. Sterchi founded the Sterchi Brothers Furniture Company in Knoxville. The company grew, and by 1925 they claimed to be the largest furniture company in the world.
In that year they embarked on an ambitious project to build a new building for their flagship furniture store. They commissioned Knoxville architect team R.F. Graf & Sons to build a skyscraper.
The Sterchis were more than just furniture magnates. The Sterchi company was very involved in the Knoxville music scene, sponsoring many southern musicians in making some of the first-known country music recordings, before the center of country music would move to Nashville. The Sterchis also donated Knoxville’s first public park, and invested heavily in their home city.
The Sterchi building remained a furniture store until 1982. In 2002 the building was renovated and converted into loft apartments.