Past Meets Present: Memphis’ Living History

The Cotton Museum at The Memphis Cotton Exchange | 901-531-7826
The Cotton Museum tells the story of this history-defining industry and its economic, artistic and cultural influences on the South and, ultimately, on the world. The Memphis Cotton Exchange room and trading floor have been restored to their 1939 look, complete with the original chalk-scribbled trading board and Western Union office. Video, photos and other artifacts further highlight the impact of “white gold” on life today.

• Suggested Tour Time: 1–1 ½  hours

National Civil Rights Museum | 901-521-9699
Site of the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Bringing the stories of civil and human rights to life in moving fashion through interpretive exhibits and in-depth audio/visual displays, the museum focuses on milestone events like the Montgomery bus boycott and the Memphis sanitation strike, as well as more recent struggles and achievements of the Civil Rights Movement following King’s death. Audio-guided tours are available in English. Docent guides for groups are available with advance request.  

• Suggested Tour Time: 2 hours

Mud Island River Park and Mississippi River Museum | 901-576-7241
By day, take the monorail, which boasts some of the city’s best views, over to the Mississippi River Museum, where you can check out genuine Civil War garb and gunboat reproductions. By night, catch a live performance at the Amphitheater with the Memphis skyline as your backdrop and the rolling river at your back. Or take advantage of the island’s natural resources and get active. Experience the river by canoe or kayak. Float in a model of the Gulf of Mexico in a pedal boat. Or tour the park and Downtown Memphis by bicycle.

• Suggested tour time: 2–3 hours

Slave Haven/Burkle Estate | 901-527-3427
A deeply moving and fascinating glimpse into how runaway slaves escaped to the North. A former way station on the Underground Railroad, this home is filled with secret cellar and trap doors that reveal the escape route. The house also includes displays about slave auctions and the personal items that depict the lives of slaves in the South.

• Suggested Tour Time: 30 minutes
• Appointment only

C.H. Nash Museum at Chucalissa | 901-785-3160
Located on a 187-acre tract of land in southwest Memphis, this National Historic Landmark is home 
to the C.H. Nash Museum and Archaeological site, its associated collections and research facilities, as well as a reconstructed 15th century Native American village.  

• Guided tours available with advanced reservations
• Call for special events/festival schedules
• Suggested Tour Time: 1 hour
Slave Haven Underground Railroad Museum. Photo Credit: Baxter Buck
Inside Elmwood Cemetery / Andrea Zucker
I AM A MAN exhibit - National Civil Rights Museum
Slave Haven Museum, Cotton Museum, A. Schwab, National Civil Rights Museum

Alex Haley House  

Located nearby in Henning, Tennessee (about 55 miles from Downtown Memphis), is the boyhood home and final resting place of Alex Haley, the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Roots. Advance reservations are suggested.  

• Suggested Tour Time: 1 hour
• Travel time from Memphis: 1 hour

Woodruff-Fontaine House | 901-526-1469
This beautiful French Victorian mansion was built in 1870 along “Millionaires Row” and was the home to two prominent Memphis families. Deeded to the city in 1936, the building stood vacant for several years until the Association for the Preservation of Tennessee Antiquities rescued the house in 1962 and restored it to its former splendor.

• Suggested Tour Time: 1 hour
• Hours of Operation: Wednesday - Sunday 12 - 4 p.m. Last tour at 3:30 p.m.

A. Schwab Trading Co. | 901-523-9782
Need a shovel? Aisle four. Voodoo candle? Over there, by the spatulas. Pair of size XXXXL underwear? Walk this way. Part department store, part history museum, this Beale Street landmark has been in business since 1876, and their motto, “If you can’t find it at Schwab’s, you don’t need it” is as true now as it was then. No wonder local grade schools still organize field trips here. Want to take a break? Head over to the old-fashioned soda fountain for handmade shakes, ice creams and more. 

• Open Monday - Wednesday 12 - 5 p.m., Thursday 12 - 6 p.m., Friday and Saturday 12 - 8 p.m. and Sunday 11 a.m. - 5 p.m.

Elmwood Cemetery

elmwood– | 901-774-3212
Cemeteries, by definition, are historical places, but with 20 different Civil War generals and veterans from the Revolutionary War, Elmwood’s claim to ‘historic’ is a tad stronger than most. But while history is the main draw, the cemetery’s natural beauty leaves an even more lasting mark. Bring a picnic, take a walk and relax in the unique blend of nature, art and history at the Elmwood Cemetery.

• Guided walking tours are available with advance notice
• Suggested Tour Time: 30 minutes–1 hour

Davies Manor Plantation | 901-386-0715
Long gone are the days when folks bought one house and never left, birthing and raising generations within its walls. Today, folks flip real estate like burgers on Labor Day. That’s what makes Davies Manor all the more impressive. Located on a 640-acre Revolutionary War land grant, the Davies Manor gives new meaning to the phrase this old house, as the Davies family owned the building for more than 100 years.

• Suggested Tour Time: 1 hour

Victorian Village | 901-523-0235
Visit this neighborhood of house museums, churches and residences with great examples of 19th century architecture located in Downtown Memphis. Memphis’ Victorian Village is comprised of a row of homes built on what was the outskirts of Memphis throughout the mid 1800’s. There are 21 homes and churches listed on the National Register of Historic Places within a four block radius. Take a stroll and relive the days of the Victorian era.

January, 2017