National Trust Life Insurance Company Building

Status: Preserved

Address: 2701 Union Avenue Extended, Memphis

Built: 1963

Architectural Style: Local example of Late International Style

Original Function/Purpose: Commerce

The National Trust Life Insurance Company Building was placed on the National Register on August 2, 2018.

History: Alvin Wunderlich, Sr. founded the National Burial Insurance Company in 1931 with his brother and two others. By 1962 the company had transitioned into “a highly successful regional provider of many types of insurance,” and Wunderlich commissioned this new building designed by Memphis architect Charles Jen. “It was the first commercial building in the city to have rooms with individually controlled heating and cooling.” Wunderlich died barely a week after the building opened in August 1963, and his son Alvin Jr. took over as chairman of the firm. A year later the company changed its name to National Trust Life Insurance Company; according to company reports, “Six out of ten Memphians held policies from the company.” It was sold in 1969 but Wunderlich continued as president under the new owner until it merged in 1980 with Commonwealth Life Insurance Company of Louisville, Kentucky. After the building was sold, it was occupied by rental offices and later still used as a radio station. It still retains a high degree of integrity, including original materials and interior plan and public spaces. It is currently vacant, but the new owner hopes to renovate it into senior housing.

City Council District: 5

Super District: 9

County Commission District: 10

DON NEWMAN