Historical Buildings Walking Tour, Memphis

Historical Buildings Walking Tour (Self Guided), Memphis

Taking this self-guided tour, you will become familiar not only with Memphis's most beautiful historical buildings, such as the Magevney House and the Mallory-Neely House, but you will also learn how to find your way around the asphalt jungle of downtown Memphis. 100 North Main and the Sterick and Dermon Buildings, the tallest buildings in Memphis, will become your guides as you navigate the city. So come discover the past and don't get lost in the present!
How it works: Download the app "GPSmyCity: Walks in 1K+ Cities" from iTunes App Store or Google Play Store to your mobile phone or tablet. The app turns your mobile device into a personal tour guide and its built-in GPS navigation functions guide you from one tour stop to next. The app works offline, so no data plan is needed when traveling abroad.

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Historical Buildings Walking Tour Map

Guide Name: Historical Buildings Walking Tour
Guide Location: USA » Memphis (See other walking tours in Memphis)
Guide Type: Self-guided Walking Tour (Sightseeing)
# of Attractions: 8
Tour Duration: 2 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 3.1 Km or 1.9 Miles
Author: val
Sight(s) Featured in This Guide:
  • Harsson-Goyer-Lee House
  • Mallory-Neely House
  • Magevney House
  • Burch, Porter & Johnson's Historic Location
  • Dermon Building
  • Sterick Building
  • Madison Hotel
  • Old Daisy Theatre
Harsson-Goyer-Lee House

1) Harsson-Goyer-Lee House

The James Lee House, also known as the Harsson-Goyer-Lee House, is a historic house at 690 Adams Avenue in Memphis, Tennessee, United States. It is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, together with the adjacent Woodruff-Fontaine House. The two houses are included in the Victorian Village historic district.

The 8,100-square-foot home was constructed by William Harsson in 1848. Harsson's daughter, Laura, married Charles Wesley Goyer, who bought the house in 1852. Goyer had it expanded by the architecture firm of Edward Culliatt Jones and Matthias H. Baldwin in 1871, after seeing their work in designing the neighboring Woodruff-Fontaine House.

James Lee, a riverboat captain who had been educated at Princeton University, bought the house in 1890. In 1925 it became the James Lee Memorial Art Academy, a predecessor of the Memphis College of Art (formerly the Memphis Academy of Art). The city of Memphis took ownership in 1929. After the art school moved to a new location in 1959, the house was vacant for many years. It was used by Canadian indie rock group Tokyo Police Club in a music video for their 2008 song "In a Cave."

In 2012 the empty house was purchased by new private owners. The following year, a $2 million construction and renovation project began, converting the house into a luxury bed and breakfast. The city of Memphis provided a property tax abatement to encourage its renovation. The bed and breakfast opened for business in April 2014. Today visitors to Memphis may enjoy the amenity of the house by staying at The James Les House as a guest.
Sight description based on Wikipedia.
Mallory-Neely House

2) Mallory-Neely House

The Mallory-Neely House is a historic mansion located on Adams Avenue in the renowned Victorian Village district of Memphis. The residence was built in 1852 for banker Isaac Kirtland and his family. The house name comes from two of the families that lived there, the Barton Lee Mallory and James Columbus Neely families. The home features an Italianate villa-style design, turn of the century furnishings and decor, stained glass windows, artwork, and statutes from the around the world.

From 1852 to 1969, several prominent families lived in the home. The last person to live in the house was Daisy Neely Mallory. The dwelling was deeded to the Daughters, Sons, and Children of the American Revolution upon Mrs. Mallory’s death. The home became part of the National Register of Historic Places in 1972 and was turned into a museum in 1973.

The Mallory-Neely House is now a museum managed by the Memphis Park Commission and Memphis Museums, Inc. have managed the house since 1987.

Opening Hours: Friday and Saturday: 10:00 - 16:00. Tours are available on the hour and half hour with the last tour at 15:00.
Magevney House

3) Magevney House

Located on Adams Avenue in the Victorian Village is the Magevney House, one of the oldest residences in the city. The house was built in the 1830s by Eugene Magevney, an Irish immigrant, and includes an herb garden and grape arbor. Magevney emigrated from Ireland to the United States in 1828 and settled in Memphis in 1833. He worked as an educator and civic leader until his death from yellow fever in 1873. The house contains many personal effects of the family and gives an accurate glimpse into their lives.

The clapboard house is an important part of Catholic history in Memphis. It is the site of the first Catholic marriage, the first Catholic baptism, and the first Catholic mass. Magevney also helped to found the first Catholic Church in Memphis. The house was donated to the city of Memphis by the family of Eugene Magevney in 1941 and became part of the National Register of Historic Places in 1973.

The house is open to the public the first Saturday of every month from 13:00 - 16:00. Admission is free.
Burch, Porter & Johnson's Historic Location

4) Burch, Porter & Johnson's Historic Location

One important landmark in Memphis is the Burch, Porter & Johnson's Law Firm. Located on Court Avenue, the building has played a significant part in Memphis history. The firm is composed of two buildings, the Tennessee Club Building and the Goodbar Building. Construction joined the two together in 1982.

The firm represented Dr. Martin Luther King during the Memphis Sanitation March in 1968, and was in court representing him when they heard of the assassination attempt that took his life.

The Tennessee Club Building was erected in 1890 by Edward Terrell, and functioned as an art gallery, library and social club. Carrie Nation gave a speech on the club’s front stairs and William H. Taft and Teddy Roosevelt visited the building. It has been listed on the National Register of Historic Places since April 22, 1982.
Dermon Building

5) Dermon Building

The Dermon Building is an impressive 10-story 10,000 square foot building in downtown Memphis. Located at the junction of Court Avenue and North Third Street, the building is famous for its dark brown brick and yellow, green, and white terra cotta exterior. Although many buildings featured terra cotta design, most terra cotta buildings in the 1920s were white in color. The multi-colored design of this building makes it a remarkable contribution to the Memphis skyline.

The building was constructed in 1925 by architects Charles Pfiel and George Awsum, designers of the Tennessee Trust Building, the Fire Engine House #1, and the Memphis Police Station. The building housed the Dave Dermon Company, a real estate company, and Dave Dermon Insurance until 1983. In addition to the beautiful terra cotta design, the building is an important part of Memphis history because of its contribution to the real estate development of the city.

Dave Dermon played an important part in the development of downtown and mid-town Memphis between World War I and the Depression through his realty company. He constructed apartment complexes, auto dealerships, and subdivisions. Because of this contribution to the city, the building became a part of the National Historic Places in 1984. The upper floors of the building offer spectacular views of downtown Memphis.
Sterick Building

6) Sterick Building

The Sterick Building is the fifth tallest building and was the tallest building in Tennessee until the early 1960s. The 29-story building features a Gothic design was designed by Wyatt C. Hendrick and Company. It was named for its first owners, R.E. Sterling and Wyatt Hedrick. The building was constructed in 1930.

Located on the corner of Madison Avenue and North Third Street, this building was known as “The Queen of Memphis” and “the most complex, most fabulous building in Memphis.” Some of the businesses this rare jewel contained included a pharmacy, beauty parlor, bank, barber shop, stockbrokers’ offices, and a Regency Room restaurant.

The building began to lose its luster during the 1960s and has been vacant since the 1980s. Although the Memphis Center City Commission placed the Sterick Building on its list of "Top Ten Center City Redevelopment Sites in 2006, there are no plans to renovate or reopen the building.

The Sterick Building was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1978.
Madison Hotel

7) Madison Hotel

The Madison Hotel is a luxury boutique hotel in Downtown Memphis. The building was formerly known as Tennessee Trust Bank building.

Built in 1905, the 14-storey Tennessee Trust building was among downtown Memphis' first skyscrapers. The building's architects, the firm of Charles 0. Pfeil and George M. Shaw were noted—at the time—for designing buildings with the ornate, classical styling and responsible for a number of landmark buildings in Memphis. The building was constructed with a large underground vault, which is currently re-purposed as the Madison Hotel gym. The scroll pattern on the west facade of the building is visible on other downtown Memphis buildings from the era designed by Shaw & Pfeil. The Madison Hotel building was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1982.
Old Daisy Theatre

8) Old Daisy Theatre

Located on the famous Beale Street, the Old Daisy Theater is known as the “#1 tourist attraction in the State of Tennessee". Built in 1902, the venue was a major stop on the “Chitlin’ Circuit” from the 1930s to the 1960s. The “Chitlin’ Circuit” was the only safe way for Rhythm and Blues artists to perform in the segregated South. George Benson, Ike and Tina Turner, Duke Ellington, the Jackson Five, Lena Horne, the Temptations, Aretha Franklin, and Wilson Pickett are just a few of the many musical artists who toured the South in this manner.

The theater reflects a Nickelodeon-Style design and features a horse-shaped balcony that is supported with iron rods, and a stage and screen located on the sidewalk. In the 1980s, the building was converted into a Blues Museum.

A new Daisy Theater was built across the street in the 1930s featuring live entertainment from established and up-and-coming artists, such as John Lee Hooker, Al Green, Sam and Dave, Bob Dylan, Alice in Chains, Justin Timberlake, Nelly, and the Cult.

Currently, the Old Daisy Theater serves as a banquet hall for meetings, events, and banquets. Catering services are available.

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