ERNEST C. WITHERS HOUSE

Status: Preserved

Address: 480 West Brooks Road, Memphis

Built: 1953

Architectural Style: Minimal Traditional style with Ranch style alterations ca. 1970

Original Function/Purpose: Residential

The Earnest C. Withers House was placed on the National Register on July 7, 2022.

History: Ernest C. Withers lived and worked in this house at the height of his career. He documented some of the most significant events in the Jim Crow South and during the Civil Rights Movement, including the trial of the accused murderers of Emmett Till, the Montgomery Bus Boycott, the Freedom Rides, James Meredith’s integration of the University of Mississippi, the funeral of slain Civil Rights activist Medgar Evers, and the Memphis Sanitation Workers Strike. As well, he captured the Beale Street music scene and “added to [a] long tradition of Black photographers capturing Black subjects authentically at a time when visibility of African Americans in media was strictly controlled in Memphis.” Although over the years he established other studios around Memphis, Withers’ sons remember that “his home served as his constant studio as he worked late in the night to develop his photos to make available the next morning. They recall the restroom being used as a “dark room” and their father filling the bathtub with dye to develop his photographs.”

City Council District: 6

Super District: 8

County Commission District: 9