Knoxville’s Daylight Building (501-517 Union Street) was constructed in 1927 by real estate developer Benjamin H. Sprankle. According to KnoxHeritage.org and the Historic Downtown Knoxville Walking Tour, the building housed the engineering staff of the Tennessee Valley Authority from 1933 until the 1980s, when TVA built a new office building. Daylight was one of four downtown buildings that housed TVA offices from the 1930s-1980s. It was named for the design that allowed natural light into the offices, even those on interior offices, thanks to the series of windows, a rooftop clerestory, and the opalescent glass on the metal canopy.
When Dewhirst Properties began preservation and rehabilitation of the historic building, the glass has been painted over in one of those poorly conceived 1970s re-dos. It was thought to be tin, and not until the restoration work began was it discovered that it was actually glass. The purpose of the design allowed a soft glow of yellow to filter into the first floor storefront windows.
It was sitting empty and forlorn when Dewhirst acquired it with the intention of establishing storefront businesses again on the first floor, and apartments on the second floor. They also discovered that the casings on the windows were copper, and had been painted yellow at some point. In 2010, Dewhirst was awarded a Preservation Rehabilitation award by Knoxville for the work on the building. It currently houses a bookstore (read about that at Suzassippi’s Lottabusha County Chronicles), local food store, and other parts of the building are under renovation. The entrance at the corner leads to the upstairs apartments–cozy, “intimate quality living spaces.”