Nelson-Kirby House (Kirby Farm House)

Status: Moved to a new location in 2014 and may eventually be delisted.

Address: 6797 Messick Road, Memphis (originally located at 6792 Poplar Pike, Germantown)

Built: 1869-1895

Architectural Style: Late Victorian, Vernacular Eastlake

Original Function/Purpose: Residential

The Nelson-Kirby House was placed on the National Register on Oct. 23, 1986.

History: The land on which the present Nelson-Kirby farm stands was originally part of the headquarters of the Brooks-Kirby plantations, a major commercial farm in Shelby County in the 1830s (see Wilks Brooks House). The Nelson-Kirby Farm was built around the late 1860s for Thomas Adderton Nelson, in part due to the 1868 outbreak of yellow fever in the city. Nelson was a prominent figure in the banking, cotton, and life insurance businesses in ante-bellum Memphis and Shelby County, and played a large role in the commercial development and revival of the Mid-South during Reconstruction. Aside from escaping the spread of disease in the city, Nelson used the farm as a retreat from the city’s summer heat. The farm was passed down to his daughter, Laura F. Brett, who constructed most of the outbuildings, creating what exists today. The farm was purchased by John A. Kirby in 1898 and has remained in the family. Kirby is credited with updating the property’s outbuildings and installing gas heat and electricity to the farm home (pictured above as it was in 1992). After the land it stood on was sold to a developer, the owner of the house moved it to a new location (Messick Road) in 2014. The house sustained damage during the one-mile move. On Dec. 2, 2017 the house was re-opened to the public, with a ceremony noting its approval as a site on the 10 Civil War Trails and with a new historic marker.

 

City Council District: 2

Super District: 9

County Commission District: 13

DON NEWMAN