A Brief History:
The Zenner House was designed by Pittsburgh architect Brandon Smith who specialized in the design of museums and libraries around the world. Smith designed the Zenner House in 1927 and building was completed in 1929. Smith had a reputation for only accepting institutional and public design requests; however he made an exception after Henry Zenner convinced him of the noble vision for the home. David, father to Henry, was the founder and owner of Zenner Dry Goods.
Considered one of the wealthiest men in Athens, Henry Zenner succumbed to Charles Forest McBee’s persuasion to provide the financial backing for his prototype intended to store freight bills in an orderly manner. Henry provided $10,000 to capitalize production. The McBee Binder Company was incorporated in June, 1906. Zenner was President, McBee Vice President and General Manager.
The McBee Company quickly become very successful and an integral part of the Athens economy for nearly seventy-five years. In 1954, it merged with the Royal Typewriter Company and Phillip Zenner, Henry’s younger son, became President of the Royal McBee Corporation. Management slowly began being moved out of Athens, and five years after Phillip’s untimely death the corporation was taken over by Litton Industries and the McBee’s connection in the Athens community dissipated.