Central Gardens was originally part of the Solomon Rozelle estate. Rozelle and a few others were the first permanent settlers in the area, and the house built by C.W. Rozelle stands to this day.
In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, the most prominent architects of the day made Central Gardens a showcase, and the city’s most prominent citizens made it the address of choice. Mayor E. H. “Boss” Crump lived here. So did Abe Plough, Clarence Saunders, and Baseball Hall of Famer Bill Terry. City forefathers, elected officials, captains of commerce, doctors, lawyers, educators, architects, artists and writers shared the streetscapes. Old money, new money and no money at all came together and formed the city’s most enduring neighborhood.
In 1906, the concept of a planned neighborhood with grand boulevards, ordered spaces, shared greenways was established. And there was room for all. The most intensive development of the Neighborhood began in 1900 and concluded in 1930, when the area had achieved most of its present density, order and character. Residential developers created more than 40 individual subdivisions that now are known collectively as Central Gardens. Today, the vision thrives beneath the shade of the towering trees and grand plans planted here so long ago.
In 1982 Central Gardens Neighborhood, was listed on the National Register of Historic Places, and is composed of approximately 83 blocks, 1540 structures and 511 acres. The great majority of the structures are single-family residences; the area also contains multifamily dwelling units, churches and schools. Central Gardens is significant for its architecture, community planning and influential residents.
We like where we are in Central Gardens. A few minutes by car (15 minutes by bicycle, a bit longer on foot) from the Memphis Zoo, Memphis Brooks Museum of Art and Memphis College of Art in Overton Park, Rhodes College, Christian Brothers University, Liberty Bowl Memorial Stadium, the Salvation Army Kroc Center, Children’s Museum of Memphis, and the restaurants and entertainment of Overton Square, Evergreen and Cooper-Young. West, the University of Tennessee and the Medical Center are just down the street. Downtown and the river are just down the street from there. East, the Pink Palace Museum and the University of Memphis are close. Audubon Park is just beyond. The interstate is just outside our boundary in one direction and the Parkways in the other.
Churches and schools are also at home within the borders of Central Gardens. The Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception, the seat of the Catholic Diocese of Memphis, anchors one end of Belvedere Boulevard. The Immaculate Conception Cathedral School is on the grounds. Within their school, they have a 9-12th all-girl Upper School and a pre-K3 through 8th coed Lower and Middle School. Grace-St. Luke’s Episcopal Church with its Tiffany windows is in the heart of the neighborhood at Belvedere and Peabody. Adjacent to the church is Grace-St. Luke's Episcopal School which enrolls children from pre-school through grade eight. Idlewild Elementary School on Linden was established in 1851 and is now an optional public school. Majestic Idlewild Presbyterian Church overlooks our northern edge just as storied St. John’s Methodist does on the west. Also just to the west are the optional public schools of Bellevue Junior High and the city’s oldest high school, Central High School.
Neighbors set their alarms early on July 4th to set up tables and sno-cone machines, to sew the final stitches in a costume, to finish a float, and to arrive at Carr Avenue before 9:30 a.m. for the annual July 4th Parade. There are toddlers in boats and on bicycles, men on horses, moms and dads, grandparents with cameras, Boy Scouts, and students from Grace-St. Luke's. People are watching for the first time and others for the 20th time. It's about the people in Central Gardens.
Central Gardens has been described as a front porch neighborhood where you can enjoy a glass of lemonade or wine with a neighbor while watching your children play in the street. We use our front porches as additional living rooms connecting us all as neighbors and friends.
Central Gardens. Join us. It’s about time.
Explore Memphis history further by purchasing the booklets; Central Gardens: A Walking Tour, a guided walking tour through historic Central Gardens homes and Stories of a Neighborhood, a history of the neighborhood featuring profiles of prominent residents, neighborhood institutions, and modern and period photos.
Central Gardens AssociationP.O. Box 41382 • Memphis, TN 38174-1382
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