this was a fun day. busy and packed full of things to do, but such a blast! I’ll hit some cool highlights in Memphis that even some of the locals don’t know about. when you’re visiting Memphis, you have to have barbecue at least once. if you’re like me and Harris, you’ll probably go a few times. Memphis is all about the food. for lunch, we went out to eat with Harris’ Grandmother and Grandaddy. when they asked me to choose, I stuck with the Memphis barbecue that I know I like: Central. Central BBQ is prepared in the classic Memphis style: smoked and pulled. I am told that if you go to Central, you have to try the pulled pork barbecue nachos. I stuck with a good ole pulled pork plate with mac & cheese and cole slaw. total perfection! I highly recommend visiting Central if you’re ever driving through Memphis. in the immortal words of Grandaddy: “You picked a good place to eat.”
after lunch, I jumped on Groupon (I may be an addict) and scored us some deals for the Woodruff-Fontaine House and the National Ornamental Metal Museum.
built in 1870 and completed in 1871, 680 Adams Avenue became one of the houses along “Millionaire’s Row.” Amos Woodruff moved to Memphis in hopes of expanding his carriage-making business and commissioned a French Victorian mansion. following his business successes, he dabbled in other industries like the railroad, cotton, and lumber. he became a prominent and wealthy figure in the community. after living in the home with his wife for a few years, he sold the mansion to the Fontaine family.
the Fontaine family was descended from French Huguenots that fled France in the 1600s. Mr. Noland Fontaine co-owned a cotton business (cotton was a booming Memphis industry at the turn of the century) and prospered financially. he died in 1912 and left the house to his wife. she lived in the house with her servants for another sixteen years. her daughter and her spouse lived in the mansion across the street that they purchased for her as a wedding present. Molly Fontaine’s home took four times as long to build as her parents’ home despite its smaller size. Molly Fontaine’s home is currently being used as a restaurant and lounge, a beautiful space for a cool, hipster hangout. next door to the Woodruff-Fontaine mansion, an art school was flourishing in the early 1900s. the home was owned by Rosa Lee where she provided a Free Art school to the community. when Mrs. Fontaine died in 1928, her home went on sale for $25,000. Rosa Lee purchased the mansion and donated it to the art school in order to expand her enterprise. that blossoming art school was the precursor to the Memphis College of Art. in 1959, the school moved to a building in Overton Park and the mansion was left vacant for two years. in 1961, the Association for the Preservation of Tennessee Antiquities (APTA) used public funds to restore the mansion. they appealed to the wealthy southerners who still had pieces of turn-of-the-century furniture and art in their homes. the mansion is now filled with relics from a time long passed. I suggest you check it out if you get the time: admission is cheap and there may even be some spooky stories to hear.
we learned so much exploring this house that it’s hard to remember everything, but I greatly enjoyed taking a step into the past here. sometimes I forget how much history inspires me and brings me to life. I recommend making a stop at the Woodruff-Fontaine House the next time you find yourself in Memphis! now, I am sure that you are getting weary after this detailed post, but I have a few more tidbits for ya!
we also took a detour to the National Ornamental Metal Museum. it was an experience that I greatly enjoyed since we discovered Native American fortifications (also used during the Civil War) right next to the museum!
by now, I know you are praying that I’m done, but nope. we made an unexpected stop to the Lorraine Hotel where Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was killed.
last but not least on this whirlwind day, we checked out the local Escape Room and let me freak out for a sec, but it was an absolute thrill! I’ve always wanted to feel like Sherlock Holmes and I absolutely did. if you seek that adrenaline rush and a mind puzzle, check out your nearest escape room.
thank you so much for taking this tour of Memphis, TN with me! I loved my trip perusing my boyfriend’s hometown & I encourage you to make time for it one day!
keep journeying, y’all!