Another Deadline Issued in Nineteenth Century Club Case

By Bill Dries

The court case over the future of the Midtown mansion known as the Nineteenth Century Club has been issued another deadline.

The plaintiffs in the Chancery Court case, which is now on appeal, have until Nov. 1 at 10 a.m. to raise an additional $50,000 in a court bond if they hope to stay demolition pending appeal.

Chancellor Walter Evans set the new deadline Wednesday, Oct. 16. Evans upheld, in a September ruling, the building’s sale by the Nineteenth Century Club and its planned demolition.

But he stayed the effect of the ruling – essentially the demolition – pending an appeal which turned in a counter offer to buy the property and preserve the house.

The latest ruling came at the end of hearing in which those seeking to stop plans for demolition acknowledged their plans for a Nashville businessman to buy the house and restore it as a restaurant had fallen through.

Dave Wachtel also missed the Oct. 15 deadline to put up $40,000 in earnest money to solidify the tentative settlement and alternative that involved Wachtel and his investors buying the property from Union Group LLC, the company that bought the property from the Nineteenth Century Club.

“His investors have decided not to put that money forward,” attorney and Shelby County Commissioner Steve Mulroy told Evans Wednesday.

Mulroy also argued against the plaintiffs being liable for any damages, saying another sale of the property to a buyer who would preserve the mansion could make up any money lost by Union Group or the Children’s Museum of Memphis.

“We’ve heard that before,” Evans commented.

Later, he declined to rule on the issue of damages.

The club donated most of the proceeds it received from the sale to Union Group to the museum. All of that money had been frozen or put in a court-controlled account until Wednesday. All sides agreed Wednesday that the club should have access to a small amount to handle its expenses. The rest remains inaccessible.

If those opposed to the demolition cannot raise the additional bond money ordered by Evans, which would bring the total bond to $100,000, the building could be demolished then. Or the state appeals court could grant its own stay of the demolition pending its ruling in a case that all sides speculated could takes more than a year even if it does not go to the Tennessee Supreme Court.

If the plaintiffs do raise the additional bond amount, Evans ruling is stayed by him pending the appeal.

The appeal has already been filed.