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Sherwood Forest Neighborhood Association (SFNA)
By Angela M. Horton
The SFNA covers four areas within its representation: Sherwood Forest, Kelley Circle, Kennedy Park and Orange Mound East. Subdivisions in these areas were built from 1940-1955 in response to the housing shortages after World War II. The Kennedy Hospital, once operated by the Veterans Administration, was developed in 1942 on 160 acres east of the SFNA neighborhoods. At one time, the hospital had 3,400 employees and included housing for 2,000 duty persons. The public road west of the hospital was renamed from “Shotwell” to the current “Getwell” when the hospital was built. In 1967, the VA transferred ownership of the land and the hospital complex to the University of Memphis. Now known as the UofM’s Park Avenue Campus, it includes many of the university’s athletic facilities. The university’s future plans include constructing a $50 million building for the nursing and audiology colleges on this campus. http://bf.memphis.edu/cpd/projects/Nursing_and_Audiology_Facility_011808.pdf
All of the subdivisions in the SFNA area were developed without sidewalks and curbs. Sidewalks were installed about 1958, after these areas were annexed into the City of Memphis in the late 1950’s. Amenities located within these four areas today include three churches, an elementary and a middle school, and an apartment complex for seniors.
Sherwood Forest Subdivision
The Sherwood Forest subdivision was developed in eight phases originally consisting of 642 structures. It is bordered by Park, Robin Hood/Echles Road, Rhodes and Goodman. The Fourth Addition of the subdivision actually extends south of Rhodes and includes Goodman Circle and Rhodes Cove. Developers for the various phases were William L. Taylor and H. Price Curd and the Boyle Investment Company, doing business as the Sherwood Building Corporation. Some of the homebuilders that worked in the area were Chandler and Chandler and Herbert Morton.
An architectural survey conducted by the Memphis Heritage, Inc. in 2000 depicted that the houses in the Sherwood Forest subdivisions were single family homes of a “Minimal Traditional” architectural style. These include Colonial Revival, Tudor Revival, and ranch-style houses of both brick and wood. Even today, the architecture of most of the homes in the Sherwood Forest subdivision has not been significantly altered. Costs of the new homes in the 1940’s ranged from $6,400 to $10,500.
The area at the northern portion of the subdivision in the Original phase (including Park, Carrington) and the First Addition phase (including Friar Tuck, Little John) remains without curbed sidewalks and underground storm drainage. Sidewalks were installed in the area around 1958 amid much protest from the residents, who were unaware that the city had laid claim to part of residents’ yards for the construction of sidewalks. Reportedly, residents in the older phases resisted the plan for sidewalks, and the residents in the later phases convinced the city developers to place the sidewalks directly alongside the streets in some areas, saving many existing trees. The Original phase contains the earliest-built homes in the subdivision.
A COGIC-owned church is located within the Original phase at Park Avenue and a non-denominational church is located at Rhodes Avenue and Robinhood Lane. The construction of Sherwood Elementary on Rhodes Avenue in 1950 at the southern end of the neighborhood heralded the later-built homes nearby.
The Irvine’s Kelley Road Subdivision consists of about 29 wooden frame homes south of Park Avenue on Kelley Road and the Kelley Circle roundabout. Formerly, this area was farmland owned by the Kelley family that extended from the Black Bayou drainage culvert to Getwell Road. A portion of the former Kelley farm is now commercial storefront and includes the Park Center shopping center. An infamous resident of the Kelley farm was Judge Camille Kelley, who was known for her involvement in the adoption scandals that occurred in the 1940’s.
Kennedy Park Subdivision
The Kennedy Park subdivision is bounded by Getwell Road, Rhodes Avenue and the Black Bayou drainage culvert and was originally platted for 105 homes. This area is situated directly across Getwell from the former Kennedy Hospital. The streets in this area were named after prominent army servicemen. The land was developed by Marx and Bensdorf Inc., and the homebuilding was contracted out to J.W. Pilley Lumber Co. and Freeburg-Hammon Co. A brick home built by J.W. Pilley on a 70ft lot cost about $9,000 when sold new in the 1940’s. Reportedly, the construction of this subdivision had a negative financial impact on Mr. Pilley, and he leapt from the I-55 Mississippi River bridge.
This subdivision was physically separated from the Sherwood Forest area by the Black Bayou drainage culvert, and was not connected to the Sherwood Forest neighborhood until 1950, when Sherwood Elementary was built. Bridges were built over Black Bayou at Healey Road and Rhodes Avenue to facilitate access to the school.
The city charged a fee to each home for the installation of sidewalks in this area. In about 1958, Ascension Lutheran Church purchased homes on Getwell and Stuart Roads, and built a church where the current non-denominational Prescott Church is located. The 13-story Ascension Towers was created about 1974 on the north side of Stuart Road as senior apartment dwellings. The builders of Ascension Towers maintain that it is Memphis’ first building to be constructed with earthquake standards.
Orange Mound East
The area of Orange Mound East is the western-most area approximately bordered between Park, Highland/Prescott, Robin Hood and Rhodes. Most of the land use prior to residential construction was agricultural in nature. This area encompasses at least eight subdivisions of single-family homes that include many built prior to World War II. The subdivisions of Messick Heights, Highland Park, and Normal Heights were all platted in 1924. The Parkhaven subdivision, located off Park Avenue closest to the Sherwood Forest neighborhood, was a 20-acre area developed by Chandler and Chandler in 1944.
Sherwood Middle School was constructed in 1957 and is located at the corner of Prescott and Rhodes.
Engstrom, Rachel and Sarah Frierson. Memphis Cultural Resource Survey – Survey of Sherwood Forest. Memphis Heritage, Inc., November 2000.
Mascolino, Susan M. Cultural Resources Survey – Messick-Buntyn and Orange Mound East. Memphis Heritage, Inc., July 2003.
“Fresh Air, Dead Air.” Memphis Flyer. 1 February 2007.
“Robin Hood Lane Residents Take Plea To Loeb Tomorrow on Street Issue.” Memphis Press-Scimitar. 1958.
“Sherwood Forest Residents Seething.” Memphis Press-Scimitar. 24 May 1958.
“Sherwood Forest Faces Make-or-Break Situation.” Commercial Appeal. 15 November 2009.
“South Campus May House Two Schools.” Daily Helmsman. 17 January 2007.
Dr. Alfred Hall, Chief of Staff – Memphis City Schools, Memphis, Tennessee, January 2010
Mrs. Edna Terrell Stepp, Original Resident of the Kennedy Park Subdivision, Memphis, Tennessee, December 2009.
“The Kennedy Hospital - The City that Cared.” Memphis Memoirs Series, WKNO.
Nursing and Audiology Facility diagram, The University of Memphis Campus Planning and Design,
“Tennessee Children’s Home Society.” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tennessee_Children’s_Home_Society
Shelby County Tennessee Plat Map Surveys and Deeds of:
Sherwood Forest Subdivisions, Kennedy Park Subdivision, Property Tax Assessors Maps.
Cultural Resources Survey of
Cultural Resources Survey of
Cultural Resources Survey of
Census Tracts 37, 38, 39, 40
Conducted by Memphis Heritage, Inc. for the Memphis Landmarks Commission
Written by Susan M. Mascolino