Beale Street Historic District

Status: Preserved

Location: Beale Street between Second and Fourth Streets, Memphis

Built: 1870-1920

Architectural Style: Various

Original Function/Purpose: Commercial

The Beale Street Historic District was placed on the National Register on Oct. 15, 1966.

History: In the early 1900s, Beale Street was the thoroughfare that divided South Memphis from Memphis. A diverse mix of black-owned businesses developed, and by the 1920s Beale Street had reached a level of high prominence. Beale Street flourished musically and commercially especially from 1900 to 1949, and again beginning in 2000. Today Beale Street stands as one of Memphis’s biggest cultural and tourist attractions. The street is lined with, or next door to, an eclectic mix of commercial businesses, bars, churches and music venues, including the Orpheum Theatre, Clayborn Temple, and the FedEx Forum. Beale Street is also listed as a National Historic Landmark.

Boundary Increase: Robert Church Park

Built: 1899, with later additions

Architectural Style: Park

Original Function/Purpose: Park

The addition of Robert Church Park to the original Beale Street Historic District took place on July 29, 1993.

History: The original boundary of Beale Street Historic District is increased by the addition of Church Park, once the center of cultural activities for African-Americans in Memphis. Founded in 1899 by Robert R. Church, Sr., the park had an auditorium, picnic grounds, bandstand and playground. The first NAACP branch in Tennessee was organized here in 1917 and W.C. Handy directed an orchestra here. After Church’s death in 1912 the park was managed by his son Robert Church, Jr., an influential leader in the Republican party. In 1941 the Walter Chandler administration changed the park’s name to Beale Avenue Park, but the original name was rightly restored in 1956 and the park has since been extensively refurbished. It contains a number of historical markers commemorating the significance of this site.

 

Map:

Outline of the Beale Street Historic District downtown, including the boundary increase of 1993.

Map of the district used in its National Register nomination.

Map of the boundary increase of 1993 used in its National Register nomination.

 

City Council District: 6

Super District: 8

County Commission District: 8

DON NEWMAN