William A. Goodwyn was a successful Memphis cotton merchant.  He bequeathed his entire fortune for a public library and an annual series of educational lectures.  The Goodwyn Institute opened in 1907 and the 7-story Beaux-Arts building was notable for four large columns above the entrance and for lions heads in terra-cotta.  The top floor held the library and the third floor was taken up by a 900 seat auditorium.  The building was demolished in 1962 to make way for a bank.

The Goodwyn Institute is listed in the 1908-1946 Memphis Directories.                       


Goodwyn 1927

 Goodwyn Foyer

 Goodwyn Stage

Goodwyn Auditorium

Yearbook 1915-16

Yearbook 1926-27 Entrance to Auditorium Library Will W. A. Goodwyn



Goodwyn Stage 1910 Goodwyn -WMC Elvis - Bill Strength

Yearbook 1925-26

Goodwyn Inst 1926

Wm . Goodwyn


The Goodwyn Institute is remembered as the site of KWEM Radio Saturday Night Jamboree, the location of the first major public appearance by Elvis Pressley before signing with Sun Records a year later.  The Jamboree was a family oriented country music show that ran from 1953 to 1954 with a format much like that of the Grand Ole Opry.  The Jamboree may be the first location where a new music that would become known as Rockabilly was performed.  WMC also broadcast a number of country and western artists from the Goodwyn Institute Building and later some of the first TV programs were broadcast from the Goodwyn.



Historic Memphis Website




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The "Historic-Memphis" website would like to acknowledge and thank the following for their contributions which helped make this website possible:  Memphis Public Library, Memphis University Library, Memphis Law Library, Memphis Commercial Appeal, Memphis Press Scimitar, Shelby County Register of Deeds, Memphis City Schools, Memphis Business Men's Club, Memphis Chamber of Commerce, Memphis City Park Commission, Memphis Film Commission, Carnival Memphis, Memphis Historical Railroad Page, Memphis Heritage Inc, Beale Street Historic District, Cobblestone Historic District, Memphis Historic Districts, Vance Lauderdale Family Archives, Tennessee State Archives, Library of Congress, Kemmons Wilson Family, Richard S. Brashier, Lee Askew, George Whitworth, Woody Savage and many individuals whose assistance is acknowledged on the pages of their contributions.  Special thanks to Memphis Realtor, Joe Spake, for giving us carte blanche access to his outstanding collection of contemporary Memphis photos.

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