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The Gayoso House


The Gayoso House, the first luxury hotel in Memphis, was built in 1842, when the city was barely twenty years old. 

The hotel was the brainchild and pet project of young Memphis entrepreneur Robertson Topp, as part of his plan to develop South Memphis. The development included warehouses, commercial buildings, and a group of superbly constructed homes, with the Gayoso as its centerpiece.

Topp commissioned renowned architect James Dakin to design and construct the building. It cost $144,000, an exorbitant amount at the time, and it was the place to stay in Memphis.

In 1858, Topp decided to double the size of the hotel, adding an additional one hundred rooms to the existing 150. He chose Isaiah Rogers, designer the country's first modern hotel, the Tremont House, to draw up the expansion plans.

Rogers sent James B. Cook to Memphis to supervise the project. Cook stayed in Memphis and went on to design many of the city's greatest buildings. The renovated Gayoso House was extravagant and luxurious in every detail.

Unfortunately, on the night of July 4, 1899, the fabulous Gayoso House burned to the ground.


To learn more about all of our region's history, visit the Pink Palace Family of Museums, or on Facebook, or at http://www.memphismuseums.org.

My mother introduced me to WKNO-FM and public radio long before I can remember. I suppose the first thing I really recall about WKNO-FM is that every afternoon, when my mother picked me up from school, the radio was tuned-in to The World, then All Things Considered, probably beginning around age 8. The way these reporters and hosts took you from the comfort of your mom's van to wherever in the world they were reporting from absolutely fascinated me. From then on, I was officially hooked.