Putting neighborhoods on the National Register is an exhaustive, dedicated process. In this special series, the keeper of the Memphis Heritage Historic Properties Catalogue gives us snapshots of some wonderful but lesser-known historic neighborhoods.
LeMoyne College Historic District (LeMoyne-Owen College)
By John Dulaney
The predecessor to LeMoyne College, an elementary school, was founded in 1862 but destroyed during the race riots of 1866. As recounted in Memphis Heritage’s Historic Properties Catalogue: “After it was rebuilt it was named the LeMoyne Normal and Commercial School after a generous benefactor, Pennsylvania physician Dr. Francis J. LeMoyne.
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In 1912 or ’13 the school moved to its current location on Walker Avenue and soon completed its first new building, Steele Hall, designed by the New York African-American architectural firm of Tandy and Foster. (Steele Hall was listed on the National Register on March 23, 1979, and retains its individual listing.) The normal school transformed into a college in 1930, and raised money to build Brownlee Hall (for administration and classrooms) and Sweeney Hall (the president’s residence), both designed by George Awsumb, who also designed the central campus.
In 1963 the college built Hollis F. Price Library, designed in the Modernist style by the firm of Gassner-Nathan-Browne and named for its first African-American president. The library features a large mosaic by Ben Shahn, an artist active in the civil rights movement. These four buildings comprise the LeMoyne College Historic District.
Owen Junior College was established in 1954 by the Tennessee Baptist Missionary and Educational Convention (the name honoring the leadership of pastor Dr. S.A. Owen), and was accredited in 1958. In 1968, after fire damaged its facilities, it merged with LeMoyne College to form present-day LeMoyne-Owen College.”
The LeMoyne College Historic District was placed on the National Register in 2005.
Read more about Memphis’ National Register properties and all of Dulaney’s Districts featured throughout this issue of StoryBoard Memphis.
This article and all of Dulaney’s Districts originally appeared in print Issue X, the August 2019 Neighborhood Issue, front page and pages 12, 23-25.