Gladys “MaDear” Bennett House

Status: Preserved

Address: 1039 Delmar Avenue, Memphis

Built: ca. 1860 with renovations in 1960

Architectural Style: Shotgun, with additions and renovations

Original Function/Purpose: Single-family dwelling

The Gladys “MaDear” Bennett House was placed on the National Register on March 27, 2020.

History: The Bennett House is located in a historically African American neighborhood just north of the Memphis Medical District. Mrs. Bennett established Gladys’ School of Domestic Arts in the 1940s; in the words of this property’s National Register nomination, it was “one of Memphis’s early schools for African Americans to learn professional skills.” She continued the school in this house that she and her husband Harvey purchased around 1955, and occupied during its period of significance ca. 1955-1970. The home’s basement housed the school, the headquarters of Mrs. Bennett’s seamstress business, and her sister Cora Crawford’s “Subway Beauty Salon.” The studio was equipped with “two rows of sewing machines, cutting tables, clothing racks, and a steam press from Harvey Bennett’s cleaning business, “Mack’s Cleaners and Hatters”.” One of the salon’s tantalizing slogans was “If Your Hair Is Not Becoming To You, Then You Should Be Coming To Us.” Numerous citizens and other businesses in the city were listed in the school’s graduation programs showing their support; “Bennett’s community had great respect for her, evidenced by the positions she occupied on various boards and committees during her life.” The Gladys “MaDear” Bennett House “serves as a physical link to Memphis’s history of Black entrepreneurship during the Jim Crow era” and is a notable example of successful African American commercial history during a period of widespread racial inequality.

City Council District: 7

Super District: 8

County Commission District: 8

DON NEWMAN