Medical District Haunts
By Julie McCullough
I don’t recall particularly liking social studies as a child. However, when I realized my great-great grandfather was a Memphis police officer killed in the line of duty, I was instantly hooked on history; more specifically, Memphis history. I started buying old Memphis photographs from the Library of Congress and the Don Newman Collection at Memphis Heritage. My bookshelves became stocked with everything from Haunted Memphis to If Beale Street Could Talk.
My fascination with history led to countless hours of binge-watching various shows on the History Channel like American Pickers. How intriguing it would be to rummage through belongings in an old home or warehouse of someone from a bygone era! At the time, there were several Instagram pages that featured Memphis history, but none that focused on historic buildings or homes. Because this was lacking in the Instagram world, I decided it was the perfect idea for a new page and drove straight to Ashlar Hall to snap a photo. And the rest…is history!
The Woodruff-Fontaine House
I snapped this shot of the Woodruff-Fontaine House the night I took a ghost tour. It was built in 1871 on Adams Ave., (then known as “Millionaire’s Row,”) by Amos Woodruff. There was much tragedy here and Woodruff’s daughter Mollie is said to haunt the home. If you’re wondering about Mollie Fontaine, well that’s a different Mollie, for a different post.
The Lowenstein House
Perhaps my favorite structure in the city, Lowenstein House adds a surprise, whimsical touch to the Medical District. Elias Lowenstein had several businesses that prospered in the mid-to-late 1800’s and built the home at the corner of Jefferson and Manassas for his family in 1890. In the 1920s the house was used as a residence for young working women who filled business positions after WWI. In 1979, it became a mental health facility, which has since moved to two new locations. For a man who arrived in Memphis with only thirty-five cents in his pocket, Mr. Lowenstein would be proud his beautiful home still stands today.
The Mallory-Neely House
Much like its neighbors to the east in Victorian Village, the Mallory-Neely House commands attention. Built circa 1852, it was restyled by James Neely in the Gay Nineties raising the tower to get a better view of the Mighty Mississippi. A stained glass window was installed that was purchased at the Chicago World’s Fair. Mr. Neely’s daughter Daisy married Barton Mallory and she lived here for eighty-six years. Frozen in time, the home is now part of the Pink Palace Family of Museums.
And now for the other Mollie of Adams Avenue: Mollie Fontaine. On Valentine’s Day, 1886, Mollie married Dr. William Taylor in a grand wedding at St. Mary’s Episcopal Church, followed by a reception in the Fontaine ballroom. Mollie’s father, Noland Fontaine, built her “Victorian Valentine” house for the newlyweds, which was across the street from his home, (Woodruff-Fontaine House). Mollie lived here until her death in 1939. Today, Mollie Fontaine Lounge is a local hot spot open Wednesday through Saturday, 5 p.m.-’til the spirits go to sleep.
Local teacher Julie McCullough started her Instagram chronicle of historic Memphis houses on New Year’s Eve, 2016. Since she started her modest photo essay, her followers have multiplied, and her work has become a local favorite and an important contributor in documenting the histories of houses and structures in Memphis and the Mid-South.