William R. Moore

   ...and the Wm. R. Moore School of Technology


Many Memphis historians have called William Robert Moore "one of the outstanding Memphians of his time".  Born March 28, 1830, near Huntsville, Alabama, his father died 6 months after his birth, followed by the death of his mother when he was only 12 years old.  After her death, Moore was forced to work as a farm worker.  At 15 he began working as a sales clerk in Nashville, and later moved to New York and spent 3 years as a wholesale dry goods salesman.  By 1859, he had saved his money and moved to Memphis and opened a wholesale dry goods company  at 271 Main Street.  During the Civil War, Moore continued to run his business and was quite clever.  He felt that the South would lose the war and that Confederate money would be worthless, so he spent all he earned, buying downtown property.  When the war was over, he found himself a wealthy landowner and one of the richest men in the city.   From  1881  to 1883,   Moore served  as  a  United States Congressman and  then two  years in the Tennessee

House of Representatives from 1889-1891.  When he was 58, he married Charlotte Blood and moved into a grand home at 106 Union Avenue.   As he grew older Moore became obsessed about his legacy.  After his retirement in 1902, he decided he wanted people to remember him for building one of the finest vocational schools in the South.  From then until his death, his time was filled with dreaming and planning for his college.  His dream became reality in 1939, when the Wm. R. Moore School of Technology opened at 1200 Poplar Avenue.


Click on small photos to see enlargements


Charlotte Blood Moore

Wm. R. Moore

Wm. R. Moore

271 Main

Moore Catalog 1940


   1865 Ad  for WRM

1865 Daily Appeal

1883 Review of WRM

Amer Ed Review 1910

Moore Monument

The Wm R Moore Bldg       1922 Ad 1872 Ad 1896 Book by WRM Delivery Truck

1859 Watch FOB Magazine Article

Mr.Miss ... 1956

100th Anniversary medals

1906 Billhead

1906 Envelope

Employee Button

Moore Home Demolished

1st Building



  W. R. Moore 1887


Odds and Ends Poems... by Wm. R. Moore . This 220 page book of poems was written by William  R. Moore and was published November 8, 1900.   The book sold for $1.00.  All proceeds were donated to charity.


Cover               Selected pages from Wm. R. Moore's  "Odds and Ends Poems"   ...  From the Collection of Dave French

Selected pages from Wm. R. Moore's  "Odds and Ends Poems"   ...  From the Collection of Dave French


In 1913 the Hein Realty Company constructed a grand building at 183 Monroe Avenue, which became the permanent home of Wm. R. Moore Dry Goods Co.  It was a 200,000 square foot, eight story facility.  After the company sold the business and moved out, the building sat vacant, and abandoned for two decades.  But that building still exists and was added to the National Historic Registry in 1982.  Recently it was beautifully restored, and is now known as Toyota Center.  It is the recipient of several prestigious Preservation-Renovation Awards.

WRM Dry Goods

Renovated Dry Goods



Wm. R. Moore School of Technology


Wm. R. Moore's life long dream was to establish a vocational college.  After his retirement in 1902, Moore spent most of his time and efforts planning for this trade school.  He died in 1909 and the bulk of his estate was left to establish this school, but the $500,000 fell short of the goal.  A group of Memphis businessmen formed a board of trustees and began investing the money.  Moore's wife died in 1919, and with the balance of her estate plus 30 years of investments, land was purchased and construction began for the school in 1938.  The Wm. R. Moore School of Technology opened April 11, 1939 at 1200 Poplar Avenue.  The school was three stories high and included classrooms, auditorium, library, and a museum.  The third floor was for the mechanical - architectural drawing rooms.  Wings along the sides held workshops for the technical programs.  Tuition was free.  The only expense was incidental costs for equipment and or uniforms.  The first class graduated in January 1940. 


Moore had wanted a school where boys could get training that would enable them to make a good living.  The original curriculum consisted of drafting, electricity, machine shop, internal combustion engines, welding, carpentry, cabinet-making, and metalworking.  The school continues to specialize in many of the same areas - Industrial Electricity, Air Condition-Refrigeration-Heating, Machine Shop, Welding and Maintenance Technology.  Today the Moore School of Technology is one of the nation's oldest vocational institutions and is considered one of the finest.  Now called Moore Tech, the college has evolved over the years to keep on top of the growing needs of a changing job market.  The school is a non-profit institution that receives no funding from local, state or federal government.  Financial aid is provided through the college's trust funds.  Although tuition is no longer free, 65% of each student's tuition is currently paid by the school's Trust Fund.  The placement record of all graduates is in the 75-80% rate.   


Wm R. Moore School of Technology c.1940      Wm R. Moore  Today Aerial View 

Electric Shop c.1949

Machine Shop c 1949

Welding c.1949

Products c.1949


Wm R. Moore  . Vintage Drawings and Photos of the school



Wm. R. Moore Memorabilia ...

C.A. French 1940

School Seal School Patch 1940 School Ring 1963 1963 Diploma



1909-1949 40th Anniversary Yearbook?  -   We believe this book was published in 1949 as a "40th Anniversary Yearbook" of the death of founder WIlliam R. Moore.  The complete yearbook is posted below.  It is quite rare and may be the only time the school printed a yearbook?  It was found by Hugh Robert McVeigh in an estate sale in Memphis.  Hugh is a 1961 graduate of The Moore School of Technology in Architectural Drawing.  Thanks Hugh, for allowing us to scan the yearbook and to publish it on the Historic-Memphis.com website.   (Note:  New evidence that similar books were published .  See below)


Hugh McVeigh


           Cover Page 1 Page 2 Page 3 Page 4           
           Page 5 Page 6 Page 7 Page 8 Page 9          
           Page 10 Page 11 Page 12 Page 13 Page 14          
           Page 15 Page 16 Page 17 Page 18 Page 19          
           Page 20 Page 21 Page 22 Page 23 Page 24          


           Page 25 Page 26 Page 27 Page 28     (BIG FILE)    
           Page 29 Page 30 Page 31 - -          

1909-1949 Yearbook  ...  Collection Hugh Robert McVeigh


We now know the 1949 book is not the only time a book of this type was printed.  Dave French has located an almost identical book "Bulletin 3, 1941" which belonged to his Uncle "Buddy" French.  Bulletin 3 was published the 3rd year the school was open.  This would indicate that the school probably published a similar volume each year.  4 pages from Bulletin 3

  Bulletin 3 - 1941 The Program Drawing Room

Assembly Room

Thanks to Maureen Thoni White for researching and writing this page.   




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