Postcard from Memphis

The Old House Web
Old Houses

with Scott Gibson

MEMPHIS -- Nearly three-quarters of a million travelers tour Elvis Presley's Graceland mansion in Memphis each year. Thousands of others pack the blues clubs along Beale Street or visit the National Civil Rights Museum at the Lorraine Motel on Mulberry Street.

But if you've got a sturdy pair of walking shoes, you can leave the tourists behind and discover some old-house history in this Mississippi River city.

That's exactly what I did in mid-February of 2006 as part of a business trip here.

It's a fair walk from the downtown commercial district to the Victorian Village, a cluster of homes dating from the mid-19th century. The desk clerk at the hotel I was staying at on North Main gave me directions: Go north on Main, take a right on Adams, and then walk another eight to ten blocks.

He was right on the money. I found the neighborhood, but hard times got there first.

Secret garden? Old garden wall doorway and moss covered steps beckon visitors at this private home in the historic Victorian village.


The Victorian Village of Memphis is a small, but interesting collection of mid-19th century homes.

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Only the Woodruff-Fontaine House, owned by the Association for the Preservation of Tennessee Antiquities, is open for tours five days a week. Other historic homes owned by the city of Memphis are closed because of budget problems.

A "budget situation" takes its toll

The unusually balmy February day was ideal walking weather, but I didn't notice any other camera-toting visitors as I made my way east along Adams.

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