Lost Memphis? Not Yet. Look at the Magnificent Interior of the Nineteenth Century Club While You Still Can.

Everyone is dismayed at the impending destruction of the Nineteenth Century Club on Union Avenue. But most of the stories about the building only show the exterior, which is nice enough, I suppose, but really can't hold a candle to the magnificent hand-craftsmanship of the interior.

We are talking about burnished mahogany paneling, hand-carved family crests, gleaming marble fireplaces, hand-painted and embossed wallpaper, banks of brilliantly colored stained-glass windows, inlaid tile floors . . . it just goes on and on.

I was lucky enough to visit the house on one of the last days it was open to the public. I was also unlucky (and stupid) enough not to bring along a nice camera. I don't know what I was thinking, but all I had was one of those disposable gadgets. So I apologize for the incredibly poor quality of these photographs, but I think even through the blurriness and darkness of the images, you can recognize that this is a house that is worth preserving. They just don't build things like this anymore.


Reader Comments:
Jul 4, 2013 06:20 pm
 Posted by  suliano

love your website....

Jul 7, 2013 10:52 am
 Posted by  Anonymous

It's a crying shame that buildings like this have to be demolished. I'm sure this one is going down because the underpinnings aren't salvageable or would be much too expensive to repair. However, I hope that things like those marble fireplaces and those gorgeous stained-glass windows are salvaged and removed to good homes. It is a travesty to destroy things such as those.

Jul 7, 2013 10:53 am
 Posted by  Anonymous

My husband and I used The Club as our wedding venue 15yrs ago. Do you happen to know if they will be selling any of the interior architecture before it comes down (mantels, windowd, etc)?

Jul 7, 2013 11:56 am
 Posted by  AawwYeahh

I would love to do some salvage work at this location! Repurposing some of that beautiful woodwork, etc. The sad is they will probably just bulldoze it!

Jul 7, 2013 12:30 pm
 Posted by  Anonymous

Are the windows Tiffany?

Jul 7, 2013 12:38 pm
 Posted by  danzo

Archicast (on Broad) re-created that panel containing the crest which was part of a huge oak cabinet that had to be replaced after a fire some 12? years ago. I still have that panel. The capsule area in center had a diagonal line, had to hand-sculpt the initials. Painting and leafing by others.
Most jaw-dropping thing in the house, to me, was plasterwork all over front parlor. Nobody can do all that anymore. so think about how STAX had to be rebuilt before knocking this beauty down. When I think, what people pay for a wedding reception hall..

Jul 7, 2013 01:46 pm
 Posted by  hootie

I too would love to know if there will be any type of sale or auction for the windows, doors etc from this beautiful building. There were so many beautiful homes as well on Union at one time..All lost to history. Thanks for any info available about getting some of these items.

Jul 7, 2013 03:10 pm
 Posted by  Anonymous

How in the world is this building not protected or received some sort of historical designation? So much of Memphis is already lost to "progress"...We should be clinging to what history, architecture and culture that remains.

Jul 7, 2013 04:41 pm
 Posted by  Anonymous

I saw the interior about 15 years ago and it was exceptionally beautiful. The craftsmanship would be impossible to recreate today. Why are we letting our heritage be torn down to make way for an ugly strip mall? We have enough of them...let us preserve Memphis history.

Jul 9, 2013 11:14 pm
 Posted by  Anonymous

It is so very sad for the history of Memphis to lose this important house, especially now that the Hunt Phelan House is closed. So many millions of dollars have been spent on the Civil Rights Museum, Stax, and re-creating the Beale Street, thet never really was, as it is, now. But, places like this are not preserved. At least, the Goyer Lee House will finally live on as a Bed and Breakfast. But as Judge Potter said in the Environmental Court, this preservation effort should have been started twenty years ago.

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Ask Vance is the blog of Vance Lauderdale, the award-winning columnist of Memphis magazine and MBQ: Inside Memphis Business.  Vance is the author of three books: Ask Vance: The Best Questions and Answers from Memphis Magazine's History and Trivia Expert (2003), as well as Ask Vance: More Questions and Answers from Memphis Magazine's History Expert (2011) and Vance Lauderdale's Lost Memphis (2013). He is also the recipient of quite a few nice awards, the creator of several eye-catching wall calendars, and the only person we know with a vintage shock-treatment machine in his den. 

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