John Willard Brister Library

Status: Preserved

Address: 3669 Alumni Avenue, University of Memphis Campus, in Memphis

Built: 1927

Architectural Style: Neo-Classical Revival

Original Function/Purpose: Education

The John Willard Brister Library was placed on the National Register on July 11, 1980.

History: The University of Memphis (formerly Memphis State University, and earlier still a State Teachers College and Normal School) houses the Brister Library Complex, named for long-time educator John Willard Brister. An 1893 graduate of Nashville’s Peabody College, Brister was a college professor who later became Tennessee’s Superintendent of Education in 1911. Later, after a stint as a state high school inspector, he served as president of the West Tennessee State Normal School from 1913 to 1918, and again in 1924. A year after he rejoined the Normal School, the school was upgraded to a four-year, degree-granting institution and became known as West Tennessee State Teachers College. Because the original Normal School did not include a library, Brister used donated funds to buy 4,000 books to create a library facility. The building was designed by George Mahan, Jr., responsible for a number of significant Memphis buildings during his sixty-year practice.

 

City Council District: 5

Super District: 9

County Commission District: 13

DON NEWMAN