VOL. 112 | NO. 2 | Tuesday, January 6, 1998
By LAURIE JOHNSON
Public hearing set for Glenview historic designation
By LAURIE JOHNSON
The Daily News
The Memphis Landmarks Commission will hold a public hearing at 4:30 p.m. today at City Hall regarding the nomination of the Glenview Historic District to the National Register of Historic Places.
The Midtown neighborhood, which encompasses 40 acres just southwest of the Cooper Young neighborhood, has been nominated by a group of its residents who want to see the area recognized for its architecture and its contributions to community planning and African American social history.
"Glenview is a significant site for social history and race relations in post-war Memphis," said Landmarks Commission historic preservation planner Darrell Cozen.
The district is bounded by Southern Railroad to the north, Lamar Avenue to the east, Frisco Railroad to the west and South Parkway East to the south.
It contains 1,167 structures, 891 of which are considered principal structures of historical or architectural significance, according to a Landmarks Commission staff report. According to the report, most of the homes in the area were built between 1908 and 1968.
The areas of Glenview built through the 1920s are important because they contain excellent examples of architectural styles and community planning patterns that were popular at the time, Cozen said.
Homes in the area are similar to those in other Midtown neighborhoods. Architectural styles commonly found in the area include Colonial Revival, Tudor Revival, Spanish Colonial Revival and Craftsman Bungalows.
Glenview continued to develop as an "automobile suburb" throughout the 1930s and 1940s, and it had several notable residents, including former Memphis mayors H.H. Litty and Rowlett Paine.
A local theater group also staged Tennessee Williams first play, "Cairo! Shanghai! Bombay!" in the garden of 1780 Glenview in 1935, while Williams was a student at Rhodes College.
The Glenview neighborhood is historically significant because of its role in the civil rights movement, Cozen said.
From 1958 to 1968, the growing sector of middle-class African Americans, including church leaders, doctors, teachers, police officers and other professionals, began moving into what had been a predominantly white neighborhood, sparking racial tension in the area.
In 1956, Rev. Charles H. Mason Jr., pastor of the Church of God in Christ at Lauderdale and Georgia and son of COGIC founder Bishop Mason, became the first African American to buy a home in Glenview, although threats and violence delayed his moving into the home to 1958.
Rev. R. W. Norsworthy of Mount Moriah Missionary Baptist Church was the second African American to move his family into the area.
By 1968, a year after area residents formed the Glenview-Edgewood Manor Area Association, Glenview was a solidly middle-class African-American neighborhood.
Following todays hearing, Landmarks Commission members will decide whether to recommend to the Tennessee Historical Commissions State Historic Review Board that Glenview be approved for listing on the National Register of Historic Places.
Cozen said he is optimistic Landmarks Commission members will approve the recommendation.
"I expect they will agree with the nomination and recommend that it be approved in Nashville," he said.
In addition to the prestige of the designation, being listed on the National Register of Historic Places can benefit neighborhoods by providing extra protection against unwanted development, as well as encouraging investment in the area.
"Whenever the federal government plans a project, they look to see whether that project will affect any of the properties on the National Register," he said.
"If it turned out that an expressway route would run through a National Register neighborhood, for example, a whole series of evaluations would be set up to see if there were any other ways to get that project done."
Homeowners and other investors also can get tax credits for rehabilitating properties in the area, he said.
The State Historic Review Board will consider the Glenview nomination Jan. 20.
The Glenview-Edgewood Manor Association, in conjunction with Glenview Community Development Partners Inc., and Blythe Semmer and Dr. Carroll Van West with the Historic Preservation Program at Middle Tennessee State University, prepared Glenviews nomination to the National Register.
Todays nomination hearing marks the culmination of more than three years work by these groups and many other neighborhood residents, said Rubye H. Coffman, president of the Glenview Area Association.
If the Glenview nomination is approved in Washington, it will be the third predominantly African-American neighborhood in Memphis to be listed on the National Register, joining the Shadowlawn-Wellington and South Parkway-Heiskell Farm communities.
Four other Memphis African-American neighborhoods, including the Wells-Arrington, Speedway Terrace, Fountain Court and St. Paul Avenue neighborhoods, also are seeking Historic Register designation.
Cozen said the State Historic Review Board also plans to review Wells-Arringtons and Speedway Terraces nominations, which Landmarks approved last month, at its Jan. 20 meeting.
Cozen said the St. Paul and Fountain Court nominations have received state approval but are still awaiting final decision from Washington.