Volunteers and Memphis College of Art students hope to liven up the underpass on Cooper Street at Peabody Park with a vibrant mural.
A group led by Betsy Robinson has launched a fundraising campaign on ioby to raise the $1,655 needed to bring the mural to life. The group has raised $750 so far and says work on the mural, which would be located on the railroad underpass on Cooper between Higbee Avenue and Central Avenue, could begin June 1 and be completed by August 1.
“So many people drive under this forgotten trestle on a daily basis,” the group stated in its fundraising announcement. “It is dark and dingy, yet it is in the center of a great neighborhood. By painting a colorful mural the aesthetics and esteem of the neighborhood and its members will be increased.”
Projects like the proposed mural, while they may seem like minor improvements in the grand scheme of things, can have a profound impact. In 2001, the Cooper-Young Historic District trestle, which hovers over Cooper near Central, was dedicated. The 150-foot long steel sculpture depicting homes and businesses in the neighborhood has since served as the “front door” to Cooper-Young.
Speaking of Cooper-Young, the place is booming.
The Cooper Young Business Association says activity in the neighborhood is at an all-time high, with 187 businesses, including 16 that have opened since January, operating in the area. The business association recently hung 26 banners, featuring images of Cooper-Young business owners and patrons, on street poles in the area, launched a new logo for the neighborhood and made improvements to the gazebo area at the intersection of Cooper and Young Avenue.
State Sen. Jim Kyle has asked state historians to help with local efforts to save the historic Nineteenth Century Club property on Union Avenue.
Kyle, the Democratic leader of the Senate from Memphis, said he met with representatives from the Tennessee Historical Commission after he received calls from constituents concerned with the fate of the property.
“I trust the judgment of the people who devote their lives to studying the history of Memphis and Tennessee,” Kyle said in a statement issued Tuesday, Aug. 6. “What they are saying is that this is one of the most historically significant residential buildings in the state, and I want to be sure the Tennessee Historical Commission stays abreast of developments in Memphis.”
The historical commission has no power to stop the property’s owner, Union Group LLC, from razing the Nineteenth Century Club building and replacing it with a commercial development, but it awards federal preservation grants and an investment tax credit program that focuses on building rehabilitation.
Last Thursday, two current and two former members of the Nineteenth Century Club won a temporary restraining order prohibiting the Union group from doing any work on the property.
The current and former members of the club had filed a Shelby County Chancery Court suit alleging the sale of the property did not follow the organization’s bylaws and that it violated the Tennessee Nonprofit Corporation Act.
Attorneys representing the plaintiffs say the club’s bylaws required all club members – not just the organization’s leadership – to vote on the sale and the state act requires nonprofits disposing of major assets to get approval from the state Attorney General.
The Union Group acquired a demolition permit from the Office of Construction Code Enforcement Tuesday, July 30, and felled a large tree on the back side of the property.
The regal but decaying property on Union was built in 1907 by Rowland Jones, a Memphis lumber king.
In 1926, the 15,813-square-foot house was acquired by the Nineteenth Century Club, a philanthropic women’s organization.
The Union Group acquired the property for $550,000 in January after winning a competitive bidding process, beating out a group that offered $350,000 and wanted to turn the property into a women’s business center. The Nineteenth Century Club plans on donating the sale proceeds to the Children’s Museum of Memphis.