Sunday, August 26, 2012

A Bit of History...

          I am a native Memphian who grew up in Central Gardens, an area in mid-town formed by Cleveland, Peabody, Mclean and Central.  Many houses in this area, which were built between 1900 and 1912, have been listed on the National Register of Historic Homes. The house that I lived in from the time I was born until I got married, is among such homes. My old homestead (1542 Harbert Avenue) was designed in 1904 by architect, Neander Montgomery Woods. 
             The Central Gardens Association has mounted an exhibit of these homes at ANF Architects (1500 Union Avenue) through August 31.  The exhibit commemorates the 100th anniversary of the publication of "Art Work of Memphis", a nine-volume architectural portfolio that featured churches, homes and commercial buildings as they were a century ago.  There are 41 houses included in the exhibit.  
             Six of the homes showcased in the exhibit will be on tour during the 36th annual Central Gardens Home Tour on Sunday, September 9, 2012 from 1-6 pm.  For more info visit

I took my mother, Betty Calandruccio, to ANF so that she could see the exhibit of the historic homes featured. Just as we walked in the door, there were two homes that they had printed onto note cards.  Our house was one of them!  How cool is that?

Walking just a little further, we found the framed pictures of the featured homes hanging on the wall.  There it was...1542 Harbert.  The photo was taken in 1910 when it was occupied by its first owner, L.T. Kavanaugh.

Mom (88 years young) got a kick out of the seeing the house, that she and dad worked so hard to restore and called home for 28 years, still highlighted after so many years.  When mom and dad purchased the Harbert residence in 1955, it had fallen into ill repair.  My parents were advised to tear down the guest house in the back, which had originally been the horse stable with the servant's quarters upstairs, but mom and dad were determined to save it.  After lots of blood, sweat and tears, the guest house, or back house as we called it, was meticulously  restored. It took years to fully restore the main house, but the end result was worth the effort-1542 Harbert still remains a 
treasured gem.

After leaving the exhibit, mom and I drove past our old residence. We were both flooded with fond memories as we sat and admired her and her timeless beauty.
 Although we are curious as to how the old homestead looks after being gone from there for almost 30 years, we have both said that we probably should not go back in during the Central Gardens Home Tour.  We want to remember her the way she was when we lived and moved amongst her walls.  My brothers, Pete and Jim, who also live in Memphis, seem to share the same sentiment.  My father, Rocco Calandruccio, passed five years ago.  He probably would give us the same advice, but he also would probably have to admit that, viewing her from the outside, she is just as beautiful as the day she was "born".

1542 Harbert-2012

1542 Harbert-1910

1 comment:

  1. What a beautiful house! Thank you for taking us along as you and your Mom strolled down memory lane.