Barret Library to Open New Exhibit on Life of Robertson Topp 

Robertson Topp, 1850

A new exhibit about the life of prominent Memphis businessman Robertson Topp is set to open on Monday, July 9, at the Rhodes College Paul Barret, Jr. Library. 

Topp moved to Memphis in 1831 and began dealing in real estate after finishing law school. He made his mark on Downtown Memphis (then the South Memphis area) when he developed the Gayoso Hotel, which was unlike any other hotel the region had ever seen. He went on to create and develop prominent Memphis streets such as Beale, Vance, Linden, and McCall.

Topp was vital in bringing the Memphis and Ohio Railroad through the city. His mansion on Beale later became home to the historic Miss Higbee School. 

Rhodes received a collection of business records, letters, speeches, and family diaries, along with other pieces, from the Topp family in 1955. The collection was microfilmed by the Tennessee State Library and Archives soon after, and copies of the microfilm are available in many libraries across the region.

The Rhodes exhibit will also feature copies of letters to Topp from Presidents Lincoln, Grant, and Polk, as well as genealogical charts from the Topp family. 

The exhibit will be open to the public from July 9 through the end of the year. The collection will be available through Rhodes’ digital repository in 2019.