Helen of Memphis in 1942

A hodgepodge of buildings on Union was THE place to shop for decades.

I’ve written before about Helen of Memphis, a retail landmark for decades. It was, quite simply, THE place to shop in Memphis for women of all ages, and was so fancy that it even featured a glove department, where gloves were tailor-made to fit your hands.

None of that “one size fits all” for Helen customers.

Looking through an old Tech School yearbook from the 1940s, I found this old photo showing how the store looked in the early 1940s. It’s especially interesting, if you ask me, because if you look carefully, you can see the old Gothic Revival church, St. Luke’s, that formed part of the rambling complex. (It’s at the right — or eastern — side of the buildings shown here.)

In later years, architect Nowland Van Powell did a fine job of blending the buildings together a bit more, but Helen of Memphis finally closed and the buildings were demolished. A Rite Aid pharmacy stands on the site today.



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Famed Memphis trivia expert Vance Lauderdale answers reader questions weekly here on his blog!

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Ask Vance is the blog of Vance Lauderdale, the award-winning columnist of Memphis magazine and 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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