Within These Walls - A Home's History

A new series exploring the early stories behind our historic homes

                                                         

There is a darling brick cottage on the southeast side of Belvedere that was once home to a renowned Memphis stylemaker and philanthropist. This home at 698 S. Belvedere was likely built around 1922, as that is when it first appeared in the Polk City Directory. 

 

The home was originally owned by Charles Kelley Lewis, an insurance man, along with his wife Maude. The Lewis family had previously lived at 1155 Peabody. Their former home stood where the I-240 overpass crosses Peabody. It was a large residence with boarders and servants. Mr. and Mrs. Lewis had two sons. Their younger son, Frank, died at 10 years of age after falling off of a horse at the Peabody property. The family moved to the home at  698 S. Belvedere in 1922 . Charles Kelley Lewis died in 1924, just over one year after buying on Belvedere. Maude Lewis died in 1951, and the home was left to their son, Charles Jr.

 

After military service, Dr. Charles K. Lewis Jr. became an ear, nose and throat specialist in Memphis. He married into a prominent family from Hernando, Mississippi who had hailed from that area since the late 1700s. His bride’s maiden name was Minor Banks. Minor's family had a large estate in Hernando, called the George T. Banks Home, which is a private residence today. Charles Lewis died in 1954. Charles and Minor never had children and she did not remarry. Minor was known to be quite independent and self-assured for a woman of her time. She owned and operated Minor-Frances Clothing Boutique in Memphis, which was still in operation upon her death in 1989. Her niece, Ellen Deblond, described Minor as a feisty woman of small stature, who was well respected in the community and whose employees appreciated her leadership and knowledge. Minor would travel alone from her cottage home on Belvedere to the Banks estate in Hernando to help maintain the large property.  According to an article in the Commercial Appeal (October 21, 2012), “Until she was around 88, Minor Banks Lewis drove from Memphis each weekend to supervise the farming operations (of the Hernando estate)”. Minor Banks Lewis was 90 years old at the time of her passing.

 

The only deed of sale found from the "Banks/Lewis" family for 698 S. Belvedere was near the time of Minor’s death in 1989, when the Minor Banks Trust sold the property to Linda Sowell. Minor Banks Lewis was laid to rest in Hernando, MS.

 

The Banks Family holds an endowment and a current giving fund with the Community Foundation of Northwest Mississippi called “Banks Family K-6 Education Endowment” and “Banks Family K-6 Current Giving Fund”. These funds were set-up by the nieces and nephews of Minor, who always gave to children in need.

 

Photo by Creme de Memph Blogspot