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VOL. 125 | NO. 174 | Wednesday, September 08, 2010

Architectural Stories

Home and garden tour chronicles Memphis styles

By Tom Wilemon

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A home at 1592 Central Ave. is part of the 34th annual Central Gardens home tour, which spans 60 years of architecture from a 1907 limestone mansion to the 1967 house Frank Gassner built for himself.
Photos: Lance Murphey

The houses on this year’s Central Gardens Home and Garden Tour chronicle a century of architectural styling.

They begin with traditional designs that borrow from past times and end with a 1967 residence built for the modern age. The 34th annual tour, which features six homes, will be from 1 p.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday.

This year, people will get to see what’s behind the wall at 1749 Harbert Ave., an address painted in bold script at the entrance to the private space. The house, designed by architect Francis Gassner in the International style, became the home of Bill and Margaret Craddock in February.

“Although I have never been to Japan, I feel like this must be what it is like,” said Margaret Craddock. “It is very quiet. It is very peaceful. The landscape in the backyard is lovely. There are a lot of old yews. There is a lot of light and glass.”

They moved into the house after living at another Central Gardens home, a Foursquare, for the past 36 years.

“There are no stairs,” she said. “The floors don’t creak.”

The other five houses on this year’s tour are older. Four of them are on Peabody Avenue.

Built in 1907, Hillcrest at 1554 Peabody is a limestone mansion with perfect symmetry and romantic flair.

A home at 1554 Peabody Ave. is part of the 34th annual Central Gardens home and garden tour, which spans 60 years of architecture from a 1907 limestone mansion to the 1967 house Frank Gassner built for himself. This year’s tour will be held on Sunday from 1 p.m. to  6 p.m.

Designed by Jones & Furbringer Architects, it was originally the home of two widows, Mrs. Walter Goodman and her daughter, Mrs. John M Richardson.

Hillcrest features a grand staircase with a prominent landing and a library. Today it is the home of John and Susan Jerit.

Built two years after Hillcrest, Four Roses at 1600 Peabody is a Foursquare built in the Arts and Crafts style. It is constructed of golden ochre brick with granules of blue aggregate and has a green glazed tile roof.

Inside, the home has stained glass, mahogany woodwork and a central hall with a staircase at the end. Four Roses is the home of Preston and Betsy Wilson.

The third stop on the street is 1657 Peabody, a stucco house built in 1912. Its long-time owners, Henry and Beverly Doggrell, brought the home back after it had been divided into apartments.

It was originally the home of Emil Witzmann, a German immigrant who sold pianos and founded a music publishing company.

The fourth house on the street at 1635 Peabody is inspired by the antebellum homes of the South. Architect J. Frazer Smith designed the home for his family, taking cues from the 1833 plantation house Asphodel in East Feliciana Parish, La.

The house was built in 1937. Smith found work during the Great Depression with the federal government. He was the principal architect of the public housing projects Dixie Homes, Lauderdale Courts, Foote Homes and Lamar Terrace. Today, Bryan Mulroy and Ray Phillips live at the home.

The final house on the tour at 1592 Central Ave. was also constructed in 1937. Designed and built for Memphis grocer Fred Montesi Sr. by Regan and Weller Architects, the house is in the Spanish Colonial Revival style.

William “Bill” Eggleston, the first photographer to have a solo exhibition of color photographs at the Museum of Modern Art in New York, lived there from 1965 to 1978. The exhibit included pictures taken at the home. Eggleston’s work was featured in a retrospective exhibition in 2008 at the Whitney Museum of Art in New York.

Another former owner, landscape designer Greg Touliatos, designed and installed the lush garden at the home. Today, the family of Drew and Amy Taylor live there.

Advance tickets for the garden tour can be purchased for $12 at 1910 Frame Works, Babcock Gifts, Miss Cordelia’s Grocery, David-Kidd Booksellers, Otherlands Coffee Bar, Wiles-Smith Drugstore, Woman’s Exchange and (Saturday only) at Schnucks on Union Avenue.

Tickets can be purchased online for $15 at www.centralgardens.org. Tickets are $15 the day of the event.

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