LeMoyne College Historic District (LeMoyne-Owen College)

Status: Preserved

Location: Roughly bounded by Walker and Saxon Avenues and by Neptune and Dr. Hollis F. Price Streets, in Memphis

Built: 1914-1963

Architectural Style: Colonial Revival, Modernist

Original Function/Purpose: Education

The LeMoyne College Historic District was placed on the National Register on Nov. 9, 2005.

History: In 1862 during the Civil War the American Missionary Association established an elementary school just south of Memphis for escaped slaves and freedmen. In 1863 the school moved near the Beale Street Baptist Church but was destroyed in the race riots of 1866. After it was rebuilt it was named the LeMoyne Normal and Commercial School after a generous benefactor, Pennsylvania physician Dr. Francis J. LeMoyne. In 1912 or ’13 the school moved to its current location on Walker Avenue and soon completed its first new building, Steele Hall, designed by the New York African-American architectural firm of Tandy and Foster. (Steele Hall was listed on the National Register on March 23, 1979, and retains its individual listing.) The normal school transformed into a college in 1930, and raised money to build Brownlee Hall (for administration and classrooms) and Sweeney Hall (the president’s residence), both designed by George Awsumb, who also designed the central campus. In 1963 the college built Hollis F. Price Library, designed in the Modernist style by the firm of Gassner-Nathan-Browne and named for its first African-American president. The library features a large mosaic by Ben Shahn, an artist active in the civil rights movement. These four buildings comprise the LeMoyne College Historic District. Owen Junior College was established in 1954 by the Tennessee Baptist Missionary and Educational Convention (the name honoring the leadership of pastor Dr. S.A. Owen), and was accredited in 1958. In 1968, after fire damaged its facilities, it merged with LeMoyne College to form present-day LeMoyne-Owen College.

Maps:

Outline of the LeMoyne College Historic District.

Map of the district used in its National Register nomination.

City Council District: 6

Super District: 8

County Commission District: 8

DON NEWMAN