Memphis Commercial Appeal - Printer-friendly story


Heritage Memphis salvage team finds historic
surprise inside home
         By Linda A. Moore    .    Sunday, May 15, 2011


It started out Saturday as a typical salvage operation for Memphis Heritage's Preservation Posse.

The volunteers went in, crowbars ready, and pulled whatever they found in the house at 998 Emmie in the Rozelle-Annesdale Historic District that could be used by someone else.

But a late-morning discovery revealed something much more important than old doors.

"We had to rip this wall out to get over in there, and they were all stacked up nice and neat over there in the corner," said posse member Mike Force.

What Force found in an attic storage area was an oversized framed diploma for Willie Rosella Scott, who graduated from Kortrecht High School in Memphis on June 8, 1917. Kortrecht, the first brick building built for African-American students would eventually become Booker T. Washington High.

There were also four large framed photographs of three African-American men and a young woman from around that same period.

"I hope we can find the family," said June West, Memphis Heritage executive director. "Our goal would be to track the family down and give them to them."

Items salvaged from houses usually end up in the Memphis Heritage Architectural Auction, held this year in October at Sears Crosstown.

The diploma and photographs will be sold at the auction only if the family isn't located and no historic group wants them, West said.

Most of what was found at the house on Emmie Street, built in 1900, is typical for the period, said Erich Schroeder, posse sheriff.

"There's all this solid oak trim that you don't find in houses anymore," Schroeder said.

The volunteers popped out trim work around doors and windows and baseboards, but didn't have the time or manpower to save the oak flooring.

There had also been some mid-century upgrades to the kitchen which had metal cabinets and the bathroom which sported mint green tile and tub.

Upstairs they found a large 1940s linoleum floor rug, which was lowered from a second-story window.

The volunteers even dug up the hydrangeas.

Rozelle-Annesdale is one of the 11 Memphis Landmarks Commission preservation zones. Structures in those zones must get authorization from the commission to be demolished, said Nancy Jane Baker, Landmarks manager.

"The reason that these districts are created is to preserve the historic character of neighborhoods, so we don't want to lose houses," Baker said. "However there comes a time when a house is not structurally sound and it has to come down."

The owner of the house on Emmie died, she said. The heir didn't have the means to maintain it and asked for a demolition permit, Baker said.

Memphis Heritage has asked permission from Landmarks to go into the homes awaiting demolition to salvage whatever it could, she said.

-- Linda A. Moore: 529-2702