Photographs of Main Street in the 1940s and 1950s show a vital artery in the heart of Memphis. Lined with department stores and retail destinations, Main Street was a hub of activity, people and commerce. Now, the department stores have closed, but many of the buildings remain, repurposed by Henry Turley Company and our partners into apartments, bistros, markets, boutiques and offices. It is, once again, a hub of activity, people and commerce. This is no small accomplishment, given the near-complete abandonment of the downtown core in the 1970s.
The stretch of Main Street between Union and Beale used to be one of the most desolate parts of downtown – dormant buildings with boards over the windows and one massive hole in the ground where several smaller buildings had burned to the ground. There is nothing more deflating for a city than a series of boarded, unused buildings; conversely, there is nothing more energizing to a city than seeing historic buildings resuscitated with vibrant, modern life. Adaptive re-use is the key: the character of the building is left intact, while other aspects of the building flex to house new activities. Equally important are the buildings’ connections to and interactions with the street. Rather than isolated places, the downtown core of Memphis is becoming one place; one place where the sidewalks, streets and trolley truly promote fluidity from one spot to the next, encouraging street life and energy. Urban areas are ever-evolving, and the Memphis core is evolving into a neighborhood that is alive 24 hours a day – through the workday and into the evening. Henry Turley Company is committed to bringing more people back to downtown Memphis to continue to reclaim downtown as the heart of urban residential, commercial and social life.