Lost Memphis 38: 1284 Harbert


Pictured above is what I believe to be one of the most unique homes ever constructed in Memphis, the L.W. Ford home at 1284 Harbert in the Annesdale Park neighborhood. During the early 20th century, Mr. Ford was an executive at one of the city's many lumber companies, Goodlander-Robinson, and this home no doubt showcased many of his firm's products. This post will take a quick look at this home lost to history, its neighborhood and its neighborhood's response to its loss.
1284 Harbert corresponded to Lots 147 and 148 of the Annesdale Park subdivision, laid out and recorded in 1903. Harbert is along the bottom of this plat; Bellevue Blvd. on the left and Cleveland on the right. Plat courtesy of the Shelby County Register of Deeds.Ad from the September 22, 1904, Commercial Appeal, featuring an image of the plat with sold lots in black.
This historic marker at Bellevue Blvd. and Vinton says the subdivision, developed by Brinkley Snowden and T.O. Vinton, was the first in the South to be designed specifically around metropolitan streetcar lines.


In 1910, the Snowden family developed phase 2 of Annesdale Park, the Snowden Homestead Subdivision, which was even more tied to the city's streetcar network, as evidenced by the fact their engineer included the car lines to the plat. Note the confluence of three routes at the neighborhood: those that ran along Bellevue Blvd., Lamar Blvd. and Central Ave. Click here for an earlier post featuring the castle designed and built by Brinkley Snowden on the plot of land shown here between Lamar and Central. Today, the area south of Lamar is the eastern half of the neighborhood commonly known as Annesdale-Snowden while the homes on the north side of Lamar are part of Annesdale Park. Plat courtesy of the Shelby County Register of Deeds.An interesting historical footnote of the Annesdale Park Subdivision is that it contains lots east of Cleveland, despite the fact that Cleveland serves as the current separation between the Annesdale Park and Central Gardens neighborhoods. As the plat above shows, the first four lots on Peabody, Carr, Vinton and Harbert east of Cleveland are in the Annesdale Park Subdivision. Beyond those lots began the 1907 Merriman Park Subdivision (recorded with the Register of Deeds as Plat Book 4, page 108), which had the same road width as the Annesdale Park Subdivision, 50 feet, but with a more conventional 30 feet of street with 5-foot sidewalks and 5-foot grass medians on either side rather than 40 feet of street width that was built with the older subdivision. This has resulted in a mid-block taper on Harbert, Vinton and Carr. Pictured above is the taper on Harbert as it transitions from a 40-foot roadway to a 30-foot roadway, looking east from the Annesdale Park Subdivision to the Merriman Park Subdivision. The 40-foot street widths of Annesdale Park came at the expense of the grass medians (also known in polite company as verges and less polite company as hell strips!).Here is a different view of the taper, this time looking east along Carr.Back to 1284 Harbert Ave. in Annesdale Park. In 1920, Abraham "Ave" Cohn bought the home for $15,000. This clip from the Friday, August 20, 1920, News Scimitar, points out that the original owner and builder, Mr. Ford, "had access to the finest building materials in the city" as a lumberman. Scan by the University of Tennessee, courtesy of the Chronicling America program of the Library of Congress.Abe Cohn was a prominent defense attorney in the city when he moved to 1284 Harbert in 1920. He passed away in 1935. By the 1940s, the old home had gone through several ownership changes and many of the big homes in the neighborhood had been converted to boarding houses or apartments.On April 3, 1947, this letter was submitted to the Board of Adjustment to allow the conversion of the home into a music studio. Note that the proposed operator, Ms. Bess Cockcroft, had up until that time utilized St. Agnes Academy (on Vance, which would later become the site of Vance Middle School), but with its move to the "eastern part of the city" (on Walnut Grove, where it stands today) left a void for such space in Midtown.
The next door neighbor, M.W. Dunkin, was not able to attend the meeting but submitted written correspondence to Planning Director L.P. Cockrill at the bottom of this public notice form.
Ms. Cockcroft's application was accompanied by this floor plan of the home, which reflects this interesting home also had an interesting layout (note the bedroom in the center of the square house and the immense size of the living room, 20 feet by 40 feet).
Here is another photograph of the front facade of the home. The bay window on the right corresponds to the dining room. The steep pyramidal tile roof was unusual for a home in Memphis with its scant amount of snowfall; the central tower likely provided a vaulted ceiling for the front living room. The extensive stonework on this home was the calling card for the Annesdale Park Subdivision, as evidenced by contemporary photographs of homes in the neighborhood (see pictures below).
The rear of the double lot had both a servants' house and a garage.Here is the floor plan of the servants' house.By the 1960s, when the City was rapidly expanding to the north (Frayer), south (Whitehaven and Parkway Village) and east (East Memphis), fewer and fewer people were interested in living in the big old homes in Annesdale Park in the middle of the city. In ca. 1964, the majestic L.W. Ford house on that big double lot at 1284 Harbert was razed to make way for this courtyard apartment building.Here is the last aerial I could find with the old L.W. Ford Home on it. Its tall central tower can clearly be seen in the right center of the photo (the ninth house on the north side of Harbert east of Bellevue).
Of course, the Ford Home was not the only one lost in Annesdale Park in the decades following World War II to make way for apartment buildings. Pictured here is The Caprice, a shoe box apartment building a few houses down.
The Vinton Apartments on Vinton Ave. were also built in the early 1960s on a lot that once housed a fine old home. This building, and the others like it built throughout the neighborhood, prompted the citizens of Annesdale Park to petition the Secretary of the Interior in 1978 with this nomination form that their community be listed on the National Register of Historic Places. This petition was approved, which in part led Annesdale Park to become one of the city's first historic zoning district a few years later, a status that requires Landmarks Commission approval for any demolition of a contributing building and of any new building that replaces it. A corresponding zoning action by the City involved downzoning the neighborhood to single-family residential status, making the construction of apartments such as this one all the more difficult. With that said, I do appreciate the fact that the developer of the Vinton Apartments used stone along its front facade, perhaps a nod to the predominate building material of the subdivision.Despite the few apartment buildings built in the neighborhood in the 1950s and 60s, Annesdale Park is still a largely single-family community. The Doyle House on Harbert is a good indication of the typical house style in the Annedsale Park Subdivision. It is a two-story stucco and timber home built in 1911. The name I am using for this home, as well as those below, is derived from the name of the owner in 1978 at the time the neighborhood was nominated for the National Register of Historic Places.The Reynolds House on Vinton Ave., built in 1911. I know of no other neighborhood in the city with so many stone homes.The Thompson House, another stone home on Vinton, is one of the older houses in the subdivision, having been built in 1906.The Zedlitz House on Vinton was also constructed in 1906; it may be one of the most stone-laden homes in the subdivision as even its columns are made of stone.The Bullard House on Vinton is not only one of the largest homes in Annesdale Park, but also one of the oldest, having been constructed the same year the subdivision was laid out (1903).
Allen House on Vinton, 1906.
The Cordera House is one of the newest homes in the neighborhood; it's a 1925 airplane bungalow. See this earlier post on a look at airplane bungalows throughout the city.
Vinton terminates at Bellevue Junior High School, built in 1927. In my opinion, the westward view along Vinton in Annesdale Park provides one of the most impressive vistas of any school building in the city.Here is the home across the street from Bellevue Junior High, identified in the National Register Nomination Form as the Green House built in 1911. It had and still has a large side yard along Bellevue. This large site and its location along busy Bellevue Blvd. made it susceptible to a zoning request, which indeed occurred in 1952.Austin Hall, local architect, provided this sketch of how the side facade would be made into a front facade for a new office building for Life and Casualty Insurance Co. of Tenn.Here's the site plan that shows how what was the side yard of the house would be converted to the front yard of the office. The parking would be located to the north of the building.Edward LeMaster represented the Life and Casualty Insurance Co. If Mr. LeMaster's name sounds familiar, it's because his father was a developer of a few subdivisions in Midtown, including the one that bears his name near Grace-St. Luke's. 

The final street to tour in Annesdale Park is Carr Ave.; here at Carr and Cleveland is the 1912 Felton House.
The Ray House, referred to in Memphis: An Architectural Guide (Eugene J. Johnson and Robert D. Russell, Jr., Univ. of Tenn. Press, 1990) as the A.S. Buchanan House after its original owner, was built in 1905. Like the L.W. Ford Home featured at the top of this post, it had a great stone arch entrance.
The Alexander House, called the Simeon Hill House by Johnson and Russell, was built in 1907. Johnson and Russell called this a "grand Norman baronial front shields a folksier shingled behind." Indeed, the only portion of the home with stone is the front facade, an architectural device that is still popular today. This house surely has one of the best crenelations in the city.
Carr Avenue even has a pushback (see this earlier post of pushback homes in East Buntyn), likely the servants home to a larger main house. That main house is not listed in the National Registration Nomination Form, which means its been missing from the lot for at least 41 years.
The owner of the 1910 McElroy House owns another piece of history: a 1960 Cadillac!
The Wise House, built in 1909.Here is the Collier House on Carr Ave., built in 1907. This photograph accompanied a 1943 variance application to convert the home into three apartments.This letter from the owner of the building explains the request; this was one application of about a dozen throughout Annesdale Park to make similar conversions. The Board of Adjustment rejected most, if not all, of these requests.The 1909 Collier home on Carr is another stone house, this one with with Ionic columns and what the National Register Nomination Form for Annesdale Park says is a "Flemish-type front gable."
Finally, we will end this tour with this house at the corner of Carr and Bellevue Blvd. that is in very close proximity to Bellevue. According to the National Register nomination form, this home was built in 1936, just two years before Bellevue was widened...This photograph, dated March 25, 1938, shows the then-new home with a note that it was owned by a Dr. Mitchel. Photo courtesy of the City Engineer.This photograph was taken a few months later in 1938, after the street widening. As part of the road project, the City erected a retaining wall as the home's small front yard was completely erased with the new lanes along the boulevard. I find it telling that the most conspicuous difference to the home before and after the street widening is the closing of all of the shutters on the main house.
The City's retaining wall would contain stairs to the home's front entrance, compete with railings, as envisioned by the City Engineer's Office in this illustration. Note the streetcar line within Bellevue which was in its last few years of operation at the time this photo was taken.
The concrete retaining wall was eventually dressed with a brick veneer. This view northward up Bellevue, with St. John's Methodist on the left, shows how close the 1938 widening of Bellevue placed this home to the travel lanes of the boulevard.