The Lowenstein's Story...
Born in Germany in 1835. Elias Lowenstein emigrated to Memphis in 1854. The firm which he headed, B. Lowenstein and Bros. Department Store, was Prominent in Memphis for 125 years. When Lowenstein's vacated, the building was occupied by Rhodes-Jennings Furniture Co. They moved out in 1980 and the old building sat vacant for almost three decades. On Mar. 18, 2009, 500 people in Memphis attended the grand opening of the newly renovated Lowenstein Building.
"It's the building that nobody said could be saved, and it's got new life again," says June West, executive director of Memphis Heritage, which owned the easement that protected the building's facade and has contributed $35,000 over the years to save the Lowenstein. "It's one of those projects that you wait for all your life. Now I get to say to people, 'Don't give up.'"
With terra cotta angels and a cast-iron facade, the store, built in 1886, had been empty since 1980 and was threatened with demolition in 1996. Three developers—John Basek, C. Yorke Lawson, and William Chandler, then president of Memphis Heritage—united in 2000 and eventually saved the National Register-listed building with a $20 million renovation. Now home to 28 apartments and retail space, the Lowenstein is part of a three-building project called Court Square Center.
1886: Opens as B. Lowenstein and Bros. department store
1980: Vacated by Rhodes-Jennings Furniture Co.
1984: Owner grants Memphis Heritage Inc. facade easement, protecting exterior architectural features
1996: Building narrowly avoids court-ordered demolition
2002: Center City Development Corp. selects Court
Square Center partners to redevelop Lowenstein and Court Annex