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VOL. 115 | NO. 200 | Monday, November 26, 2001

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Downtown struts its stuff in home tour


The Daily News

As Downtown Memphis becomes an increasing credible place to live, work and play, residents within the community are eagerly embracing the chance to show off their urban digs in the upcoming fifth annual Downtown Home Tour.

The tour, sponsored by the Downtown Neighborhood Association, is noon to 6 p.m. Sunday.

Unlike any other neighborhood in town, Downtown boasts a variety of living spaces ranging from industrial lofts to historic cottages, all of which will be on display during the tour.

Its the most diverse of any neighborhood you could go to in Memphis, and were trying to go from end to end, said Donna McComas, DNA tour chairman.

After checking in for tickets and free refreshments at the Harbor Town Yacht Club Residences on Mud Island, the tour starts with a spin around the recently renovated home of Nancy Thomas at 802 Harbor Isle Circle West.

As part of the first Harbor Town home renovation, Thomas completely gutted parts of the 10-year-old home, effectively transforming the interior into a new space, while at the same time preserving the exterior and surrounding gardens, which drip with Old South flavor.

The next site, winner of the 1993 Vesta Home Show, is the nearby home of Andy and Suzanne Hamm at 855 Harbor Isle Circle West. In addition to its creative flair and modern amenities, the home, just two blocks away from the Maria Montessori School, showcases Harbor Towns success as a self-contained community providing residents with shopping and services such as dry cleaning and video rental, as well as child care and educational facilities.

From there, the tour bootlegs into Memphis oldest suburb and the site of massive revitalization efforts, the Greenlaw Historic District. Delicately couched between a recently renovated 1899 firehouse and a variety of antiquated housing stock, sits the 19th century cottage of John Griffin and Russell Armstrong at 194 Looney Ave. Considered by many to be a work of art in itself, the home was rehabilitated by Griffin, a design consultant, in the 1970s from a duplex to a single-family house.

The subtle recessed lighting, expansive living spaces and well-preserved wood floors complement the owners unique collection of art and handcrafted furniture.

Next, tourists can ditch their vehicles along North Main Street and hop on the trolley for a free ride, courtesy of Memphis Area Transit Authority, which will be manned with docents from Memphis Heritage giving complimentary architectural tours of Downtown.

The first trolley stop is the home of John Palmer and David Ousset who occupy the ninth floor of Memphis first skyscraper, the D.T. Porter Building at 10 N. Main St. The 1895 building initially known as the Continental Bank Building was converted to condominiums in 1991, with three commercial businesses occupying the lower levels.

The 6,800-square-foot home of Bell and Linda Felts at 400 S. Main St. is the next attraction on the tour. The Felts occupy the second story of the 1913 building, which theyve spent the past five years renovating.

Yet another complimentary refreshment stop will be located at South Mains Central Station, where tourists opting to begin the home show from the south end can also buy tickets.

Next up is the Orgill warehouse at 505 and 515 Tennessee St., which in addition to housing a number of high-tech startup companies, also contains 125 residential rental units.

Three young professionals, Christina Ross, Sophie Walker and Regan Rozypal, plan to display their industrial loft apartments, replete with exposed brick, concrete floors, mile-high ceilings and sturdy timber.

The tour will culminate with a free horse-drawn carriage ride down cobblestone streets through the exclusive South Bluffs community to the three-story home of Jerry and Bobbi Gillis at 567 Magnolia Mound Drive. An antique 14-passenger Yellow Cab bus also will be on hand to provide free South Bluffs shuttle services.

Were expecting a much larger crowd this year, because the quality of the tour has increased every year, McComas said.

Organizers are encouraging people to purchase advance $8 tickets at Harbor Town Gift and Garden, Bennett Stained Glass, Market Central, Madison Avenue Antique Mall, Babcock Gifts and The Gift Horse in Germantown.

Tickets can be purchased the day of the event at either Central Station on South Main or at the Harbor Town Yacht Club for $12.

PROPERTY SALES 56 289 2,908
MORTGAGES 55 226 2,009
BUILDING PERMITS 108 1,002 6,703
BANKRUPTCIES 42 248 1,225