See Rock City

See Rock City

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Memphis Historic Buildings

Tennessee Club . 130 N. Court Avenue

This is one of the most distinctive buildings in Memphis. It was designed by Edward Terrell and built in 1890 for the Tennessee Club. The style is a mixture of Victorian, Romanesque, and Moorish. The Tennessee Club was founded by a group of men , mostly Confederate Officers, who were determined to restore social graces to the city after the Civil War. They established a library and art gallery and fostered civic and scientific debates. Many social events were presented in their 4th floor ballroom. In 1970, the building was purchased by the law firm of Burch, Porter & Johnson, who renovated the building.

S. C. Toof Company . 295 Madison Avenue - next to AutoZone Park

Architect G. M. Shaw designed this "Chicago School" style building for the S. C. Toof & Company in 1913. The impressive building with Egyptian Revival influences, has terra cotta elements. The Toof company is the oldest printing company in Memphis, and still in business as "Toof Commercial Printing". The building was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1982. In the mid 1990's there were plans to establish a minor league baseball museum in the vacant building, but as of 2008 the building is still vacant and boarded up. This building is in danger!

Dixie Greyhound Bus Lines Complex on Main St.

Clayborn Temple ... 280 Hernando at Pontotoc

This building housed the Second Presbyterian Church until it was sold to the African Methodist Episcopal Church in 1949 and the name was changed to Clayborn Temple. After the name change, the church became an important center for the black community during the Civil Rights Movement. Martin Luther King spoke at Clayborn several times and the sanitation worker marches started and ended there.

First Beale Street Baptist ... 379 Beale

This is the first brick church in the south built by and for former slaves to serve their community. The congregation originated in 1849 in the home of a white Baptist minister. A city ordinance at the time prohibited blacks from preaching to a congregation and required a white man to be present during all services. After Memphis fell to Union forces in 1862, these regulations were dropped, but the church continued under the leadership of a white minister until 1864.

In 1865 the church raised enough money to purchase their lot on Beale. It then took them more than 22 years to raise enough money to build the magnificent church designed by Edward Culliatt Jones and Mathias Baldwin. The cornerstone was laid in 1871 and the building finished in 1885. The twin towers were originally much taller and more ornate. One tower was damaged during a windstorm in the 1880s and the other was struck by lightning a number of times. But it remains a graceful and imposing structure. Ida Wells published her newspaper from here and W. C. Handy's memorial service was held here in 1958. The church is now on the "endangered" list and is in need of restoration.

Sears Building . 495 N. Watkins

The grand opening of Sears Crosstown was in 1927. At that time it was the South's only Sears, Roebuck and Company catalog order plant. There were 11 floors and 650,000 square feet of floor space. It was also a Gothic architectural gem. The building was expanded over the years, but in 1983 it closed, and the building has been vacant sine 1996. Today there are broken windows and rusty fire escapes, but there is a bright future. In 2007, the property was purchased and the new owner is expected to renovate the building as a retail facility.

Business Men's Club . Chamber of Commerce . 81 Monroe

The Memphis Business Men's Club was founded in 1899. Their purpose was simply to promote the interests of Memphis. Their building was designed by Shaw and Pfeil in 1919 and inspired by the designs of architect Louis Sullivan. In 1913 the Business Men's Club changed their name to the Memphis Chamber of Commerce. In 1980 the building was converted to office space. The Chamber of Commerce moved to the Falls Building on Front Street.

The various names of the Chamber of Commerce since 1838: Memphis Businessmen’s Club (1838) . Memphis Businessmen's Club Chamber of Commerce (1916) . Memphis Chamber of Commerce (1917) . Memphis Area Chamber of Commerce (1975) . The Chamber – Memphis Area Chamber of Commerce (1982) . Memphis Regional Chamber of Commerce (2002) . Greater Memphis Chamber (2007).