VOL. 113 | NO. 163 | Wednesday, August 25, 1999
By LAURIE JOHNSON
Overton Park Historic District seeks commission approval
By LAURIE JOHNSON
The Daily News
The Memphis Landmarks Commission today will hold a public hearing today regarding the nomination of the Overton Parkway Historic District to the National Register of Historic Places.
The purpose of the hearing, which will be held at 5:30 p.m. during the commissions regularly scheduled meeting, is for Landmarks to review the districts nomination and then vote whether or not to recommend its approval to the Tennessee Historical Commissions State Review Board, said Landmarks historic preservation planner Jennifer Tucker.
The Landmarks Commission is scheduled to meet today at 4:30 p.m. in Conference Room A of City Hall.
The Overton Park Historic District is being nominated under National Register guidelines for its "cohesive collection of homes that embody a wide range of housing styles constructed in the first half of the twentieth century, and for its association with several prominent architects," according to a Landmarks Commission staff report.
The nomination is being submitted by Eric B. Miller and the East End Neighborhood Association in collaboration with Judith Johnson, executive director of Memphis Heritage Inc.
If it is approved, it will be considered by the Tennessee Historical Commissions State Review Board on Sept. 29.
While commission members have the final say, Landmarks staff is recommending that the district be approved for listing on the National Register, Tucker said.
"The commission is the body that has the final vote, but we do support it," she said.
The Overton Park district, bounded by Cooper Street, East Parkway, Poplar Avenue and Madison Avenue, contains 179 primary buildings, of which 152 are contributing, or historically significant, structures, according to the staff report.
The area, also known as the East End, is significant because it contains a very good collection of housing stock typically built in Memphis from 1905 through 1950, Tucker said.
"It has a lot of different styles, so its a very good representative sampling of the housing stock that was being built through that time period," she said.
The homes along Poplar and East Parkway are large, eclectic-styled homes, while the rest of the district consists mainly of smaller homes, most of which reflect the Tudor Revival style, according to the staff report.
Other architectural styles prevalent in the area include Queen Anne, Craftsman Bungalows, Colonial Revival, Mediterranean Revival and Spanish Colonial Revival.
The area formerly was a small unincorporated town, until the creation in 1887 of the East End Dummy Line, a steam rail that connected Memphis to Montgomery Park, now the Memphis Fairgrounds, and the East End Amusement Park, according to the report.
Many of the homes in the district were designed by well-known architects and architectural firms of the period, including George Shaw, Everett Woods, Mahan and Broadwell, and Jones and Furbringer.
For a neighborhood to be listed on the National Register, its nomination must be approved at the local, state and national levels.
"The local level is where we are right now with this one," Tucker said.
If Landmarks grants its approval, the nomination proceeds to the Tennessee Historical Review Board, and then on to Washington, D.C., to the Keeper of the National Register, which is part of the National Park Service.
"Once they sign off on it, then its officially designated as a historic district," Tucker said.
Being listed on the National Register benefits both residents in the district and owners of rental properties.
People who own rental properties are eligible for a 20 percent federal rehabilitation tax credit, and benefits to residents in the area include increased community pride.
"I dont know if this is something thats exactly been proven, but it seems to stabilize and/or increase property values," Tucker said. "Its no guarantee, but its something thats happened in a lot of the other neighborhoods here in Memphis.
"People understand the importance of their home and how important it is to maintain it to preserve its historic integrity."
Tucker said she believes the Overton Park District has a very good chance of making it all the way through the process.
If the Overton Park Historic District obtains its National Register listing, it will bring to 37 the number of Memphis historic districts listed on the National Register.
"Were very blessed with historic structures in Memphis and would very much welcome the inclusion of this neighborhood, as well," she said.
The next meeting of the Landmarks Commission is scheduled for Sept. 8.