Hunt-Phelan House

Status: Preserved

Address: 533 Beale Street, Memphis

Built: ca. 1830

Architectural Style: Federal Style / Greek Revival

Original Function/Purpose: Residential

The Hunt-Phelan House was placed on the National Register on Feb. 11, 1971.

History: As the last standing example of the grand style of architecture prevalent during the Antebellum South, the home was owned by George Hubbard Wyatt until 1845 when it was purchased by his cousin Elijah Driver. Driver’s daughter Sarah Elizabeth, and Sarah’s husband, Confederate colonel and land surveyor William Hunt, lived in the home during the Civil War and the yellow fever epidemic of the 1870s. The home was used throughout the Civil War era as the headquarters of both Northern and Southern generals in Memphis; it is alleged that General Ulysses S. Grant planned the Vicksburg campaign in the library there. In addition to serving as a hospital to over 19,000 soldiers in 1864, the home was visited by American Presidents Andrew Jackson, Martin Van Buren, Jefferson Davis, Andrew Johnson, and Grover Cleveland. The mansion was occupied by Colonel Hunt’s descendants for six generations, and in 1993 was inherited by Bill Day from his uncle, a member of the Phelan family. Day began extensively restoring it, discovering among other family memorabilia a remarkable collection of Civil War-era letters by Jefferson Davis, Nathan Bedford Forrest, and others. He partnered with Elvis Presley Enterprises in 1995 to make it a 10,000-square-foot museum and tourist attraction, furnished as it was with family heirlooms. In the long run, this was not the financial success all had hoped for, and Day sold the house and auctioned its contents in 2000. It was converted to a bed and breakfast establishment, then to a “wedding and events” venue, and in 2019 is for sale for $2.75 million. In 2018 the City of Memphis designated this property as a site on the Memphis Heritage Trail.

City Council District: 6

Super District: 8

County Commission District: 8

DON NEWMAN