South Main Street Historic District

Status: Preserved

Location: Roughly bounded by South Main and Mulberry Streets, and Webster and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Avenues (the latter formerly part of Linden Avenue), in Memphis

Built: 1900-1930

Architectural Style: Largely Commercial vernacular

Original Function/Purpose: Commercial

The South Main Street Historic District was placed on the National Register on Sept. 2, 1982.

History: This district in the nineteenth century was a muddy residential street linking Victorian homes to the downtown district via trolley. The completion of Union Station in 1912 and Central Station in 1914 changed the neighborhood, making it the gateway to Memphis. Existing structures were warehouses, hotels, bars and brothels built during the early decades of the twentieth century to serve the needs of travelers and railroad commerce. Extensive redevelopments are currently taking place in the South Main district. In May 2017 developers announced a $50+ million plan to convert the historic 103-year-old Central Station into “a hotel like none other,” and in 2019 Malco converted the station’s own old Powerhouse building into a $6.5 million 7-screen theater. South Main Street Historic District is one of the National Register-listed districts recognized (and protected) by the City of Memphis as a local historic district or Historic Overlay District.

Boundary Increases

Mar. 8, 1997

Status: Preserved

Address: 663 South Main Street, Memphis

Built: 1914

Architectural Style: One-story multi-bay brick

History: The original boundary of South Main Street Historic District is increased by the addition of the 1914 Railway Express Agency building connected to the south end of Central Station, and by addition of the masonry freight tunnel connecting the two buildings. After World War II the railway freight handling business was slowly killed off by subsidized or otherwise cheaper competition from the U.S. Post Office and trucking companies.

July 9, 1999

Status: Preserved

Location: 384 Mulberry Street and 129 Talbot Avenue, Memphis

Built: ca. 1905

Architectural Style: Two-story brick with poured concrete basement foundations and exterior porches, stairs and shed roofs

History: The original boundary of South Main Street Historic District is increased by the addition of these two identical two-story apartment buildings, or tenement houses as they once were. Few, if any, other historic tenement houses still exist in Memphis; these are labeled in the 1907 Sanborn insurance maps of Memphis as “Negro Tenements.” They, like nearby shotgun housing in this district, were clearly constructed as working class housing near commercial / industrial areas.

Aug. 13, 2013

Status: Preserved

Location: 124, 136-137, 153-154 & 161 East G.E. Patterson Avenue (formerly Calhoun Avenue), and 138 St. Paul Avenue, in Memphis

Built: ca. 1905

Architectural Style: Late Nineteenth and early Twentieth Century American Movement; Commercial / Classical Revival

History: The original boundary of South Main Street Historic District is increased by the addition of structures along the 100 blocks of East G.E. Patterson Avenue and the nearby parallel St. Paul Avenue.

Maps:

Original outline of the South Main Street Historic District used in its National Register nomination (border is the bold line around properties running north and south along South Main Street between Linden and Webster Streets) .

Outline showing the boundary increase of 1997 (along southwest end of district, inside dashed line).

Outline showing the boundary increase of 1999 (midway along eastern edge of district, inside hatched area).

Outline of the district in its current state, showing the boundary increase of 2013 (along the eastern edge of the district, inside black dashed line)

City Council District: 6

Super District: 8

County Commission District: 8

DON NEWMAN