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VOL. 132 | NO. 145 | Monday, July 24, 2017

Victorian Village Gets New Signage, Design Guidelines

By Andy Meek

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New signage is almost finished being installed in the Victorian Village neighborhood to give visitors to the district more of an idea of how to navigate the area. (Submitted by Victorian Village Inc. CDC)


The signs that have started popping up around the Victorian Village neighborhood welcome passersby to the historic community, with an announcement greeting visitors in large and prominent letters.

Three of the signs have been posted so far. One more is still on the way. All of them include a silhouette of the neighborhood – with its historic mansions and older properties – set against a sunrise.

The point of posting them is to help visitors make their way around the district, said Victorian Village Inc. Community Development Corp. executive director Scott Blake.

“These replaced some signs that had been put up in the 1970s that were worn out,” he said. “So with funding from the Memphis Medical District Collaborative, we’ve got four new wayfinding signs, gateway signs we call them.”

They’re installed at Orleans Street and Poplar Avenue, Orleans and Jefferson Avenue and another across from Shelby County Juvenile Court on Adams Avenue. The last location is pending, but will likely be posted near the West Tennessee Regional Forensic Center.

The signs started being erected a few weeks ago. The motivation stems from what Blake said has to do with the concentration of most of Victorian Village’s historic treasures being along Adams, a fact that’s not readily apparent to visitors who come down Poplar or go down Jefferson looking for some of the historic homes.

“On some of them, there are arrows that point to Adams Avenue, depending on their location,” Blake said. “The design also has silhouettes of some of our most important buildings, like St. Mary’s and the Mallory-Neely House. So it’s very stylistic and I think very eye-catching.”

The new signage comes at a time when new design guidelines are being proposed for the neighborhood that straddles Downtown and the medical district, guidelines that were last updated in the late 1980s.

According to draft language, the new guidelines are meant to help the neighborhood “maintain its heritage and authenticity while accommodating infill development, serving modern needs in a cherished setting.”

As a guiding philosophy for the new framework, the draft continues: “To maintain its urban vibrancy, the built environment of the Victorian Village is centered on people – not cars. Buildings contribute to the rich urban fabric, inviting the attention of passersby through innovative design, architectural forms, details, windows, and variation in massing. Storefronts, architectural screens, and landscaping minimize the visual presence of garages and parking lots. Its public spaces, from its streets and alleys to its parks, and deep front lawns, cater to the pedestrian’s enjoyment with safe and shady sidewalks, canopies of trees, pleasing landscaping, artwork, resting spots, and places for gathering.”

Blake said the 40-page draft has been prepared after working with architect and urban designer Andy Kitsinger and his business, The Development Studio. A public meeting about the draft, at which members of the public can weigh in, is coming up early next month – on Aug. 2 at 5:45 at Collins Chapel.

“We talk about the vision and mission of Victorian Village in the guidelines – how we’re really striving to become an infill residential neighborhood,” Blake said. “Then we go into talking about the different historical design styles. And we give good and bad examples of, if you’re planning a fence in front of your house, there are some good examples to follow and here’s what you shouldn’t do.”

The guidelines fare designed for people who are not architectural historians or urban planners, he said, “just people moving to the neighborhood who need a way to simply understand the directions we want people to go in as they make design decisions.”

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