Porter Leath’s Home Finds Partner to Preserve Historic Orphanage Buildings

Porter Leath Home, the longtime supporting organization of Porter-Leath, recently completed the sale of its historic Manassas campus buildings to the Memphis and Shelby County Community Redevelopment Agency (CRA). The sale fulfills Porter-Leath’s promise to find an owner that would preserve the historic campus.

“We are proud to deliver upon our promise to find a community-minded partner and neighbor to acquire portions of our Manassas campus for their future use,” Porter-Leath President Sean Lee said. “The relationship with CRA allows Porter-Leath to both preserve our historic elements while continuing to best use funds to fulfill our mission.”

“Historic preservation of these properties has been a focus since 2016 and we are very excited our efforts have come to fruition,” Porter Leath Home Chair Lura Turner said.

The buildings include a complex of four connected structures as well as Gould Cottage at the south end of the campus and three acres of land. Porter-Leath will retain ownership of Sarah’s Place and Early Head Start on the campus as it continues to operate programs in those spaces.

The four-building complex includes the original 1854 orphanage building, the three-story addition constructed in 1874, and two annexes. Gould Cottage was constructed in the 1920s and served as a home for girls. Porter-Leath outgrew the space and consolidated over one hundred staff members into its Early Childhood Support Center at 3400 Prescott Road in 2017.

Porter Leath Home considered numerous options for preserving the properties. Available historic preservation grants weren’t sufficient to cover estimated project costs and the buildings wouldn’t provide enough space for Porter-Leath’s current and future needs. Ultimately, the organization determined that dedicating significant resources to building preservation would negatively impact its ability to effectively serve children and families and advance its mission.

CRA began leasing Gould Cottage in 2021 and invested over $100,000 to renovate the space while in discussions with Porter Leath Home about continued usage. Plans for the other buildings will be announced by CRA once finalized.

CRA President Andrew Murray said, “This initiative is birthed out of the Uptown Community Plan that was developed by the residents and stakeholders within the Uptown TIF District. It is imperative that we make our home in the community where we resource and work to preserve the historic neighborhood assets. We are elated to partner with Porter-Leath and the neighborhoods to pursue redevelopment of the historic orphanage campus that has made such a difference in the lives of countless Memphians.”

Pursuant to the Uptown Community Plan, CRA will be soliciting proposals from developers and investors to redevelop the historic buildings. The buildings are eligible for Historic Tax Credits as well as New Market Tax Credits and represent a unique opportunity in the historic core of Memphis.

About Porter-Leath

For over 170 years, Porter-Leath has been a primary resource for Memphis children and families. By focusing on the essential building blocks of healthy development, Porter-Leath not only gives them access to the tools they need, but also a sense of hope. Porter-Leath helps build stronger children, stronger families, and a stronger Memphis. For more information, visit porterleath.org or contact us at 901-577-2500.


About the Memphis and Shelby County Redevelopment Agency

The Memphis and Shelby County Community Redevelopment Agency, a joint agency of the City of Memphis and Shelby County governments, provides a source of financing to assist public or private enterprise in the elimination of blighted conditions while maximizing return on public investment in the target areas. Tax increment is deposited into a Redevelopment Trust Fund to provide direct assistance for public or private investment in the provision of affordable housing, public infrastructure, and other public purposes consistent with the elimination of blight that helps public and/or private developers, governmental and non-profit agencies leverage capital and provide an array of services consistent with the Community Redevelopment Plan. To learn more visit www.cramemphis.com.

One Reply to “Porter Leath’s Home Finds Partner to Preserve Historic Orphanage Buildings”

  1. Hello, My brother, sister and I grew up at Porter Leath in the late 194Os to 1959. We are now 82, 77 and 75. My brother and sister still live in the Memphis area and I relocted with my family in 1972 to Phoenix, AZ. I am so pleased the home will be preserved. All of us have such happy memories of our time there. We would all be very interested in being a part of any grand opening festivities when the buildings are reopened! Please contact me at: Mrs. Anita Dean ( Edward) Skinner 14021 N. Canterbury Drive Phoenix, AZ 85023 (602-363-2297) Warm Regards, Anita Skinner

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.