Historic Properties in Memphis and Shelby County Listed on the National Register Of Historic Places

Below, you will find a list of all the properties, sites, and districts currently listed on the National Register in Memphis and Shelby County. You will also find a list of places that once had National Register status, but have since been removed for any number of reasons. Feel free to explore our catalog; you can click on any location to learn more.

This information is always changing, as there is no such thing as consistency in the fight for preservation and protection. We will do our best to always have the most up-to-date information available on our site. If there is more information you would like to know about any of these places, please contact us!

Important Note: The properties described here are arranged alphabetically under the names by which they were nominated to the Register. However, if a personal name is part of the overall name of an NR property, the primary word used here in alphabetizing the property is almost always that person’s surname. Such names are usually written out in their normal form, although alphabetized by surname.

Here are some examples. The “E.H. Crump House” is written thus (and not as the NR has it, “Crump, E.H., House”), and is listed under “C”, not “E”. The Elvis Presley House is listed under “P”, while John Willard Brister Library appears under “B” and William R. Moore Dry Goods Building under “M”. Finally, other names by which a property may be more familiar usually appear in parentheses after the “historic” name, for example “Anderson-Coward House (Justine’s Restaurant).”

This catalog lists 198 historic properties in the City of Memphis and Shelby County, Tennessee that are listed in the National Park Service’s National Register of Historic Places (or NR) as of July 23, 2021. It also includes in a separate section 21 additional properties that were once listed but have been removed (delisted) due to neglect, demolition or major changes to the building’s or neighborhood’s integrity.

The mission of Memphis Heritage is to educate individuals and groups about Memphis and Shelby County’s historically significant buildings, neighborhoods, open spaces and parks. The purpose of this catalog is much the same: Our hope is that it will inform our public officials as well as civic and business leaders in Memphis and Shelby County about the many historic properties in their jurisdictions or surrounding them at work and home. We wish to remind everyone that Memphis is sixth in the nation for properties listed on the National Register, behind Washington DC, Baltimore, Philadelphia, Boston, and New Orleans. This important designation should be noted by leaders as one of the things that makes Memphis authentic and distinguishes it from many other U.S. cities. For this reason we shall continue to assist and encourage every effort to restore and preserve our cherished historic landmarks wherever possible. Through these efforts we aim to keep Memphis among the top members of the list.

The information and photos here have been collected and organized over a number of years by interns and volunteers associated with and directed by Memphis Heritage Inc.

Work on this project began in 2013 when two Memphis students, brothers working on their Eagle Scout Service Project, approached Memphis Heritage hoping to work on a history program that could serve the entire community. After several meetings they decided to investigate the properties in Shelby County that were listed on the National Register of Historic Places. At the same time, Memphis Heritage had a need for photos of these same properties. The students began by traveling around the city photographing each listing. They then created a database containing pictures and other information gained from their visits to the city’s many and varied neighborhoods. On a number of occasions the Scouts were disturbed to find no building when they arrived at the property’s address, discovering first hand the absence of landmark buildings that had been demolished – a definite eye-opener. Their project was extremely successful and both brothers earned their Eagle Scout rank.

That was the first step in compiling this catalog of city- and county-wide National Register-listed properties. During the next couple of years, the second phase in creating this resource was taken on by three students from Rhodes College fulfilling Public History Internships. It was their charge to research each property’s history, build date, architectural style(s), locations and districts, etc. They created one page per property where this important information is documented. A volunteer from the Memphis Public Library helped by assigning the properties to their voting districts – City Council Districts and Super Districts, and County Commission Districts. In 2015 the project was taken over by a University of Memphis Graduate Fellow in City and Regional Planning, later joined by a University of Tennessee Health Science Center Department of Medicine retiree. Together they confirmed and added to the information already collected, and edited the entire catalog. The original version of this catalog was printed on July 18, 2017. Copies were presented to members of the City Council in session on August 22, 2017, and soon afterward to other City of Memphis officials and local libraries. Finally, its publication online was overseen by Henry Kemp, a Rhodes College Public History Intern. Updates by staff and volunteers will attempt to keep this information reasonably current.

Names and affiliations of the above volunteers, as well as others responsible for creating and making this catalog available to the public, can be found below in Acknowledgements.

 We regret any inaccuracies, omissions or copyright issues, and encourage readers to report such cases, which will be corrected in future editions.

The two sets of properties described here, both the ones currently listed on the National Register and those that were once listed but have been removed, are arranged in alphabetical order under the names by which they were nominated to the Register. However, to avoid confusion or difficulty in finding properties, please note the following. If a personal name is part of the overall name of an NR property, the primary word used here in alphabetizing the property is almost always that person’s surname. Also, such names are usually written out in their normal form, although alphabetized by surname. For example, the “E.H. Crump House” is written so (and not as the NR has it, “Crump, E.H., House”), and is listed under “C” instead of “E”. The Elvis Presley House is listed under “P”, John Willard Brister Library under “B”, William R. Moore Dry Goods Building under “M”, etc. Also, other names by which a property may now be more familiar usually appear in parentheses after the “historic” name, for example “Anderson-Coward House (Justine’s Restaurant).”

Some half-dozen NR Historic Districts extend across the boundaries of two or more City Council Districts, Super Districts or County Commission Districts. In these cases (which are all noted on their respective pages), the particular historic district has been assigned to the City Council District in which most of the property appears to lie, or to the lowest-numbered district. A good example is the Memphis Parkway System, which lies in City Council Districts 4, 5, 6 and 7, Super Districts 8 and 9, and County Commission Districts 7, 8, and 9. For convenience, it has been assigned to City Council District 4. 

The National Park Service’s National Register of Historic Places is the nation’s inventory of historic properties. Among other requirements, the places listed can be “districts, sites, buildings, structures and objects that possess integrity of location, design, setting, materials, workmanship, feeling, and association.” Almost without exception they must be at least 50 years old, and they should be significant to the history of their community, state or nation. Thus many qualities may make properties listable. Overall, a property should be associated with a significant historical or architectural context, and retain historic integrity of the features necessary to convey its significance. In this catalog we describe more than 200 examples here in Memphis and Shelby County that are now, or were once, listed.

In addition to the honor of being recognized, listed properties are given consideration in planning for federal or federally-assisted projects, and can qualify for federal grants. They are eligible for certain tax provisions, notably for a 20% investment tax credit for certified rehabilitation of income-producing historic structures. Owners of privately-owned NR-listed properties are free to maintain, manage and dispose of their properties as they choose.

Another category of historic properties recognized by the National Park Service are National Historic Landmarks, defined as “nationally significant historic places designated by the Secretary of the Interior because they possess exceptional value or quality in illustrating or interpreting the heritage of the United States.” In addition to being listed on the NR (and described in the catalog that follows), National Historic Landmarks in Memphis are Beale Street, Chucalissa, Graceland and Sun Record Company. Clayborn Temple has also recently been proposed as a National Historic Landmark.

Comparable to the National Park Service’s National Register of Historic Places, the City of Memphis has its own means of recognizing local properties worthy of being preserved in their historic condition. This effort is overseen by the Memphis Landmarks Commission (MLC). The joint Memphis and Shelby County Office of Planning and Development (OPD) staff now manages the MLC as well as the Land Use Control Board (LUCB) and the Board of Adjustment. Memphis’s local historic districts were once known as Memphis Landmarks Districts, but since the adoption of The Memphis and Shelby County Unified Development Code (UDC) by Memphis City Council on August 10, 2010, they are now codified as Historic Overlay Districts (see Section 8.6 of UDC). Protection of such districts is ensured by seeing that “all exterior new construction, building alterations, demolitions, relocations, and site improvements visible from the street must be reviewed and approved by” the MLC. A former distinction between “historic preservation districts” and “historic conservation districts” no longer applies. Every newly-designated Historic Overlay District must have developed its own set of MLC- and City Council-approved Design Review Guidelines. It is worth noting here that Memphis and Shelby County have benefited for almost two decades from the expertise and dedication of MLC’s former Manager, Nancy Jane Baker, who retired in mid-2017.

There are currently eighteen Historic Overlay Districts (HODs) in Memphis. Following adoption of the UDC, Memphis approved this status for eleven former “local historic districts” or Landmark Districts that are listed on the National Register. These are: Annesdale Park, Annesdale-Snowden, Central Gardens, Cooper-Young, Cotton Row, Evergreen, Gayoso-Peabody, Glenview, South Main Street, Speedway Terrace and Victorian Village. These will be described elsewhere in this catalog. Lea’s Woods and Rozelle-Annesdale are likewise local Historic Overlay Districts but are not listed on the NR. The Withers Home, residence of Civil Rights photographer Ernest C. Withers and a single-lot district, gained Historic Overlay District status recently, but like the previous two is also not listed on the NR. Memphis has two other single-lot Historic Overlay Districts, Collins Chapel and Maxwelton, which are on the NR and will be described in this catalog. 

The four NR-listed Vollintine historic districts, together with some smaller adjoining neighborhoods, recently allied as the Vollintine Evergreen Community Association or VECA, and collectively applied for Historic Overlay District status. The four are Vollintine Evergreen Avalon HD, Vollintine Evergreen HD, Vollintine Evergreen North HD and Vollintine Hills HD. They are listed individually on the NR and accordingly each will be described in this catalog. After the Landmarks Commission, the Land Use Control Board and the Memphis City Council all approved their application, in July 2021 VECA became the newest, largest and seventeenth Historic Overlay District in the city.

Historic Overlay District status was also granted in July 2021 to the Crosstown Historic District (which is not listed on the NR). This district is bounded roughly by Autumn and Poplar Avenues on the north and south, and by I-240 and N. Claybrook Street on the west and east, with the exclusion of the so-called “Crosstown Mound” component. It joins Lea’s Woods, Rozelle-Annesdale and The Withers Home as Historic Overlay Districts that are not listed on the NR.

The status of Cooper-Young and Speedway Terrace as Historic Overlay Districts is somewhat complicated. Consent agendas that included final approval of HOD status of these two districts were passed twice in 2018 by the Memphis City Council. However, for full compliance one more such passage is required. On the other hand, Tennessee law states that if a governmental action is in the process of being approved, that action itself must be considered approved. 

 

Dollars invested through historic preservation projects can leverage thousands of dollars for new investments. When preservation is focused on re-use it is an economic development tool. For example, the redevelopment of the historic NR-listed Tennessee Brewery has been projected to have an economic impact of $43.8 million for Shelby County during the construction phase alone, supporting 307 jobs. The annual impact of the property after completion will be more than $8.2 million per year, generating 107 jobs and hundreds of thousands of local tax dollars. (See the catalog that follows for descriptions of the Brewery and other NR properties mentioned here.)

In connection with this aspect of historic preservation, the federal tax code approved in 1986 has an extremely important feature. It allows developers and investors a credit of 20% of rehabilitation costs incurred in renovating historic structures, meaning any recognized by the National Register of Historic Places. Developers can use the credit to offset their federal corporate tax liability, or can transfer the credit to investors. The more recent tax bill of 2017 has changed the way such these tax credits may be applied, though. No longer may the full 20% tax benefit for such work be taken when work has been completed on a restored property; the credit must now be parceled out over five years. Some say this will probably reduce the value of the credit somewhat (because “time is money”), although it should still be attractive to developers and investors who don’t require immediate tax benefits.

The State of Tennessee legislature has voted favorably in the past on legislation that provided state tax credits for rehabilitating eligible historic buildings – tax credits provided by all neighboring states. Unfortunately the passed bills did not make it into the Governor’s budget and hence did not become law. Another attempt was made in 2019 with a bill providing that rehab of certified historic structures in Shelby County (for example) would be eligible for a 20% historic tax credit. Unfortunately this bill did not pass. 

In a new attempt to provide such tax credits for rehab of Tennessee historic properties, and thus help drive private investment, Senate Bill S.B. 678 and an identical bill in the House were introduced in the Tennessee General Assembly in early 2021. However, the bills did not advance far enough to be added to the budget. Instead, the governor added a pilot $5 million grant program to his approved budget that will work in much the same way as the proposed state tax credit, through the Tennessee Department of Economic & Community Development. 

Local and national media have commented on various Memphis historic properties or districts that have used, or were expected to use, historic preservation tax credits for renovation projects. A Memphis page on the National Trust for Historic Preservation’s website www.community-wealth.org (of date 2003) reports that the 1914 Central Station in South Main Street Historic District was helped by historic tax credits to the tune of $3 million. In 2004 the National Park Service recognized the use of tax credits in the preservation of shotgun houses in Memphis’s Delmas-Lema Historic District. Ann Breen and Dick Rigby wrote in their book Intown Living: A Different American Dream (2004) that one of the sources of funding for the renovation of Lauderdale Courts was $5.2 million in tax credit equity, nearly 14% of the total needed, and that renovations to the 1923 Shrine Building and the 1904-1914 Memphis Trust / Commerce Title Building were also helped by historic tax credits.

The Commercial Appeal and other news media reported in October 2013 that the Crosstown Concourse team anticipated $30 million in tax credits for renovating the former Sears Building. In 2015 the projected renovation of the Universal Life Insurance Building was expected to use about half a million dollars in tax credit equity, or 8% of the total cost – so stated a staff report of the Downtown Memphis Commission. The Commercial Appeal reported in March 2017 that owners would use about $2.4 million in tax credits to fund renovation of the Medical Arts / Hickman Building. Owners of the Scimitar Building (the new Hotel Napoleon) likewise reportedly made special efforts to gain use of tax credits, as the new owners of Clayborn Temple also anticipate doing. A partner in Court Square Center (which includes the historic downtown Lowenstein Building and Lincoln American Tower) pointed out to The Commercial Appeal in November 2017 that the tax credit was one of the incentives for pursuing this $45 million dollar project, completed in 2009. Recently, renovations of the Hotel Chisca (also on South Main) and the Nineteenth Century Club Building have benefited from these credits, as will the renovation of the Tennessee Brewery and the Sterick North Garage & Hotel, and the newly-NR-listed U.S. Marine Hospital Building, Nurses Quarters, and Steam Laundry.

For further reviews of the significance of historic tax credits to Memphis, see articles by Wayne Risher and by Mark Fleischer in The Commercial Appeal of November 9 and 16, 2017, respectively.

A study of the impact of such tax credits was issued in July 2017 by Rutgers University’s Center for Urban Policy Research and the National Park Service (which administers the tax credit along with state historic preservation offices). The report states that the program has generated nearly $132 million in private investment involving nearly 43,000 projects. The credit (measured by jobs and income, among other metrics) has yielded a net benefit to the U.S. Treasury of $29.8 billion in federal tax receipts, compared with $25.2 billion in credits allocated. In addition, more than 55% of such rehab projects in fiscal 2016 were in low- and moderate-income areas, and about half of the projects involved either rehabbing existing housing or creating new housing “through reuse of commercial space.” Thus the program “is an important tool in helping to revitalize older, economically depressed communities.”

Property values surrounding historically and culturally significant sites are 5-15% higher than similar properties in the same city. In 2004, economists Edward Coulson and Michael Lahr analyzed changes in property values in Memphis neighborhoods containing historic properties and found that “Historic designation adds 17.6% appreciation in housing values.” Furthermore, almost one-third of the visitors to Memphis come to see a historic site, according to surveys conducted by state and local tourism associations.

It is also well established that older buildings can be more energy efficient because they were built more rigorously than modern properties. With over half of landfill mass coming from demolished buildings, adapting older buildings for new uses has many environmental benefits. The greenest, most sustainable buildings are the ones that have already been built.

To sum up, it is the hope of Memphis Heritage that this catalog will help its users to discover, and learn more about, the rich and diverse history of Memphis and Shelby County through the properties that still exist to remind us of that history today.

All links provided below were accessible on May 5, 2021.

Memphis Heritage:

Information about Memphis Heritage and its projects is here: https://www.memphisheritage.org/ .

For a map showing locations of Memphis and Shelby County historic properties, including those listed on the National Register (NR), see here: https://www.memphisheritage.org/historic-properties-map/ .

National Register of Historic Places:

For information about the National Park Service’s National Register of Historic Places, see here: https://www.nps.gov/subjects/nationalregister/index.htm  Links are provided to “Frequently Asked Questions,” such as how to go about listing a property on the NR. Links there will also allow searching the NR database for listed properties nationwide. 

Historic Preservation Tax Incentives or Credits:

For information on the National Park Service’s website about using tax incentives to help preserve certain historic properties, and the properties that qualify for these incentives, see here: https://www.nps.gov/tps/tax-incentives.htm . (It should be noted that “Owner-occupied residential properties do not qualify for the federal rehabilitation tax credit.”)

The National Trust for Historic Preservation is a strong advocate on behalf of this credit; see here https://savingplaces.org/historic-tax-credits#.WUQ6XYqQxLA . For the National Trust’s lists of rehabilitation tax credit projects by state and city, including Tennessee and Memphis, see here: https://forum.savingplaces.org/viewdocument/historic-tax-credit?_ga=2.81450385.701737634.1542214946-174951967.1541366947 .

The Tennessee Preservation Trust’s website provides links to a number of useful topics; for its list of historic tax credit projects including several dozen in Memphis, see here: http://www.tennesseepreservationtrust.org/resources/national-preservation-topics .

The link to Novogradac & Co.’s useful “Historic Tax Credit Resource Center” is here: https://www.novoco.com/irs-htc-guidance .

Local Sites Concerned With Historic Preservation:

For the Memphis and Shelby County Office of Planning and Development, see here: https://www.develop901.com/ or here: https://www.develop901.com/landuse-developmentservices 

 For the Memphis Landmarks Commission, see here: https://www.develop901.com/landuse-developmentservices/MemphisLandmarksCommission A section labeled “Local District Information” contains maps and design review guidelines for most of the current “landmarks districts” or Historic Overlay Districts. 

A copy of The Memphis and Shelby County Unified Development Code will be found here: http://www.shelbycountytn.gov/DocumentCenter/View/13413/ZTA-13-002-Complete-UDC-as-approved?bidId 

A map of Memphis showing sixteen Memphis Overlay Districts is here:  

https://www.shelbycountytn.gov/DocumentCenter/View/32774/Landmarks-historic-districts-2018-all 

For a collection of maps of individual Historic Overlay Districts, see here:  

https://shelbycountytn.gov/DocumentCenter/View/31725/Landmarks-historic-districts-map-3?bidId

Other Sources of Information:

The information provided in this catalog about present and past NR-listed properties is only a brief outline of what may be available in each case. The primary source of further information is of course the property’s nomination itself. Those that have been digitized (or most of them) can be located online at the National Register’s website, here: https://www.nps.gov/subjects/nationalregister/database-research.htm 

However, nominations of newer listings may not have been digitized yet by the NR and thus not available from them, and the same is true of most if not all properties that have been removed from the list (delisted). The latter nominations may be digitized eventually but are lowest in priority. Digital copies of recent nominations in Tennessee may be available upon request from the Tennessee Historical Commission, which must approve nominations before they are submitted to the NR; see here: https://www.tn.gov/environment/about-tdec/tennessee-historical-commission.html Printed copies of nominations of numerous local properties listed during the early years of the NR are available in the Memphis and Shelby County Room of the Benjamin L. Hooks Central Library, and still others (although not all) from then and later years will be found in the files of Memphis Heritage. 

The best sources of information about any Memphis or Shelby County property that is being considered for a future listing are of course local libraries. In most cases, the most extensive resources will probably be found in the Benjamin L. Hooks Central Library and its History Department, specifically the Memphis and Shelby County Room. For example, as of 2020, the Central Library contains books about the following historic districts: Annesdale Park, Annesdale-Snowden, Central Gardens, Collierville, Cooper-Young, East Buntyn, Evergreen, Greenlaw Addition, Normal Station and Vollintine Evergreen. Further resources are located in other local libraries (Arlington, Collierville, Germantown, Millington) or local college or university libraries including the University of Memphis’s Ned R. McWherter Library, specifically the Department of Special Collections and its Memphis Press-Scimitar files and other material.

The listing (or non-listing) of a number of early Memphis Public Schools on the National Register (NR) is complicated. In 1982 the Memphis School Board nominated twelve public schools built between 1902 and 1915 in a Multiple Property Listing (MPL). The ten elementary schools in this listing were Bruce, Grant-Pope, Guthrie, A.B. Hill, Idlewild, Lauderdale (then called Lauderdale-Walker), Lenox, Maury, Peabody and Rozelle; the listing concluded with Snowden Junior High and Central High. Three schools were accepted at that time, are still listed on the NR, and remain in full use today: Peabody and Rozelle Elementary, and Central High. Four more elementary schools of the MPL were accepted to the NR at that time but over the years have been replaced and demolished, and will be described in detail in the catalog: Guthrie, A.B. Hill, Lauderdale and Maury. The nominations for yet another four schools were returned to the Board of Education at that time (1982) with requests for further information: Bruce, Grant-Pope and Idlewild Elementary, and Snowden Junior High. The last of the twelve schools, Lenox, was no longer in use as a school at that time and had already been listed individually on the NR in 1981; its new nomination was not accepted but its individual listing remains today (as described above).

Of the four nominations above that were returned for further information, one source wrote nearly a decade later in 1991 that they had been “lost in the shuffle of staff turnover” at the then-responsible agency, the Memphis Division of Housing and Community Development. Bruce and Idlewild Elementary, and Snowden Junior High, were never re-nominated. While Bruce would be demolished around 2000, both Idlewild and Snowden continue in full use today. Although these latter two schools are not listed individually on the NR, both are contributing properties in listed historic districts (Idlewild in Central Gardens Historic District, p. 101, No. 1000 of its nomination, and Snowden in Evergreen HD, p. 82, No. 990). Grant-Pope was later listed individually on the NR under its original name of Leroy Pope Elementary School but eventually was demolished and delisted.

In later actions, two other schools, L.C. Humes High and Melrose, are said to have been nominated to the NR as part of a 1996 MPL featuring schools built between 1918 and 1954. This was perhaps unsuccessful (records have not been located), because they were later re-nominated and listed individually, as they remain today. Cordova High, Fairview Junior High and Wells School were also listed individually and remain on the NR. Douglass High School was listed individually, but was later demolished and delisted.

Memphis Heritage is grateful for the dedicated work of our volunteers, interns and staff that allowed this project to be completed:

Boy Scouts of America, Chickasaw Council, Troop 55 Eagle Scouts:

Russell August Klinke (2013)

Zachary Wayne Klinke (2013)

Rhodes College, History Department Public History Interns:

Matthew Hein (2013)

Sam Bridger (2014)

Harrison Donahoe (2014)

Henry Kemp (2018)

Memphis Public Library:

Bryan Massey (2015)

University of Memphis, City and Regional Planning Graduate Fellow:

Lauren Crosby (2015-2016)

University of Tennessee Health Science Center:

John T. Dulaney (Retired) (2016-2021)

Memphis Heritage Inc.:

Carrie Stetler

Margot Ferster Payne

June W. West

Holly Jansen Fulkerson

Leah Fox-Greenberg

Memphis Heritage acknowledges the services of The FPS Company, Memphis, TN, the printer of this work, and thanks the Community Foundation of Greater Memphis for the grant that enabled the printed edition of this catalog.

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Residences, Churches, Hospitals, Commercial Properties, and Entertainment Venues

Memphis Public Schools

The original online edition of this catalog was completed in April 2018, and the current updated edition in July 2021, at the direction of Memphis Heritage Inc.

Leah Fox-Greenberg, Chief Executive Officer

Howard Hall

2282 Madison Avenue at Edgewood

Memphis, TN 38104

*****

Original edition printed July 2017 by

The FPS Company

3945 East Raines Road

Memphis, TN 38118

*****

The printing of the original edition of this catalog was made possible by a grant from

The Community Foundation of Greater Memphis

1900 Union Avenue

Memphis, TN 38104