Gladys Knight and William McDowell build Reynolds Community Center

Press release:

When Gladys Knight and Canton-native William McDowell joined together in marriage, his home became hers. William and Gladys own a property in Fairview just outside Asheville. It’s where their family members gather for special reunions and events and where the couple feel most at home in their lives these days, even amidst Gladys’ constant touring schedule. As a first and second grader, William attended Reynolds High School in Gibsontown and in 2015 purchased the school to preserve the spirit and history of the area and to give it back to the community.

The Reynolds Community Center will embody the sense of family William felt growing up there and still today as he drives the winding little roads around the school, stopping his car to honk the horn and say “hello” and share conversation with family members still living right next to the school, many generations deep, and longtime friends in the area. He knows them all and they, too, love catching up with him. This amazing Center, which is expected to cost approximately $5 million is slated for completion in the summer of 2019 and will encompass a Music Center, where Gladys will share her passion for music, a Welcome Table to provide a place to share meals and be a community, a Child Care area, which will also serve as a counseling center for substance abuse classes, a Kitchen, Dining Room and Food Pantry, a Computer Center and Library, a Gymnasium, a Performing Arts Room, an Exercise Room and in the beautiful trees and wooded land of the Blue Ridge Mountains, an Athletic Field, Walking Track and Nature Path, complete with camping shelters for children’s camp outs and sleep overs.

Numerous fundraising efforts will allow all in the community and Gladys and William’s entertainment family to take part in the development of this longtime dream for Gladys, William and the Canton community. From volunteer efforts assisting with clearing and outdoor renovation to a paver program encouraging anyone to remember a loved one or even a Canton or Reynolds High School memory; naming and gifting opportunities will abound.

Much needs to be done to bring this worthwhile and historic effort to reality. In order to offer the community an affordable place to gather, share a meal, exercise, enjoy nature, feed their soul and spirit, learn new skills, meet new people, treasure history and create an even stronger sense of community, Gladys and William need your love and heart. Whether it is resealing the roof, paving the parking lot or a number of other community driven projects, everyone can be a part of this amazing story creating memories and opportunities for generations to come as they dream of a better tomorrow.

Mike Finton will serve as the Executive Director of RHSCF (Reynolds High School Community Foundation) and will oversee all organization, management, construction, development and community relations. The Architectural firm of record will be McMillan, Pazdan and Smith and project manager and lead architect will be Carleton Collins. Design and planning of the project is underway.

As the couple announce this dream of theirs to make their hometown and community stronger, we ask our neighbors and friends to lend a hand and their hearts and make it a true community vision and experience, touched by all. For more information go to

About the Reynolds Community Center
Founded by legendary entertainer Gladys Knight and Canton-native William McDowell in 2017, the Reynolds Community Center is located on the former site of the historic Reynolds High School. This amazing center, which is expected to cost approximately $5 million when fully complete, will embody the sense of family William felt growing up in the historic area, with nine newly-renovated, state-of-the-art modules designed to preserve the spirit and history of the area, including a Music Center, Welcome Table, Child Care center, Kitchen, Dining Room and Food Pantry, Computer Center and Library, a Gymnasium, Performing Arts Room, Exercise Room and an Athletic Field, Walking Track and Nature Path. For more information, please visit

About Alli Marshall
Alli Marshall is the arts section editor at Mountain Xpress. She's lived in Asheville for more than 20 years and loves live music, visual art, fiction and friendly dogs. Alli is the winner of the 2016 Thomas Wolfe Fiction Prize and the author of the novel "How to Talk to Rockstars," published by Logosophia Books. Follow me @alli_marshall

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