Photo: Memphis Type History
Memphis has an extensive history, and it is easy to overlook parts of the city’s interesting past. Read on to learn a little bit more about this fascinating city.
Choose901 teamed up with Memphis Type History to present Memphis trivia that will add to your Memphis pride and knowledge. Additionally, in honor of Black History Month, Memphis Type History included some black history facts that relate to Memphis’ history.
- Robert Reed Church is recognized as the South’s first African-American millionaire. He owned a saloon, hotel, and bank – to name a few. While Memphis was infected with the Yellow Fever, Church recognized this time as an opportunity to invest in more of Memphis property. So, when Memphis was reduced to a Taxing District, he was the first citizen to buy a bond for $1,000, to restore the City Charter. Memphis wouldn’t be the city it is today without him.
- Robert Church also founded the Solvent Savings Bank and Trust Company, the first black owned and operated bank in Memphis.
- From 1923 to 1950, we had a black baseball team in Memphis called the Memphis Red Sox. They were one of very few black leagues to own their own ball park. It was the Martin Stadium located on E.H. Crump Blvd.
- Speaking of well-known Memphis streets, many Memphians are familiar with Sam Cooper Boulevard, but do not know its history or namesake. Sam Cooper grew up in the Pinch District of Memphis, the son of a tailor. Shortly after graduating from Humes High School in 1930, he got a job as an office assistant at Humko, a vegetable-oil processing plant and cotton seed refinery. He learned quickly, rose through the ranks, and became Humko’s vice president in 1952.
- Julia Britton Hooks is known as a musical prodigy and the “Angel of Beale Street.” She was also known to actively protest against racism and inequality which occasionally led to her getting arrested or fined. One example includes a time in 1881 at a Memphis theater when she sat in a “white balcony” and refused to move to the “colored balcony.” She was arrested and fined five dollars.
- Memphis has many good places to consume soul food and one of our personal favorites is The Four Way in Soulsville. The Four Way was one of few places in Memphis that white and black people ate together during the Civil Rights Movement. This place was also a regular for famous individuals such as Martin Luther King, Jr., Elvis and many famous Stax recording artists.
- Hoyt B. Wooten built the world’s largest private bomb shelter in Memphis.
- Besides the Peabody, there is only one other place in Memphis that serves food and beverage and owns livestock on the property. That place is Silky O’ Sullivan’s on Beale Street and there you will find two goats. At one time, you could share a beer with them, however after the owners learned of a goat escapee, they have since built an extra fence which put a longer distance between goats and human guests.
- A lot of people may know the original owner, Clarence Saunders, of the Pink Palace never got to live inside. But, he also never intended it to be called the Pink Palace. Instead, Saunders had named his mansion, Cla Leclaire. It was a mix of his children’s names. But with the structure being built with pink Georgia marble, naturally people dubbed it the Pink Palace.
- Finally, many Memphians visit the New Daisy to watch their favorite performers play live shows, but the venue was not always used for musical performances. Upon its opening in 1942, the Daisy Theatre, or “Old Daisy,” served as a movie theater with the occasional live show. By the 1970s the theatre lost its traffic until the 1980s when Mike Glenn leased the space to host boxing matches. Eventually, the Daisy started to host live shows once again, and evolved to the venue we all know now.