Overton Park Historic District
Posted by: Groundspeak Regular Member cgeek
N 35° 08.815 W 089° 58.966
16S E 228263 N 3893409
Quick Description: Overton Park, Memphis, TN
Location: Tennessee, United States
Date Posted: 4/13/2008 12:52:02 PM
Waymark Code: WM3JXG
Published By: Groundspeak Charter Member BruceS
Views: 21

Long Description:
Overton Park Historic District *** (added 1979 - District - #79002475)
Roughly bounded by Poplar Ave., E. Parkway N., N. Parkway E., and Kenilworth St., Memphis. Architect, builder, or engineer: Kessler,George E.

Overton Park was designed by landscape architect George Kessler as part of a comprehensive plan that also included M.L. King Riverside Park and the Memphis Parkway system. The planning began in 1901, and Overton Park was established in 1906.

In the 1960s and 1970s Overton Park was the subject of controversy when 26 of its 342 acres were slated by highway planners to be demolished to build Interstate Highway 40 through the park to make it easier for suburban commuters to get to downtown. However, many residents of midtown formed a group known as "Citizens to Preserve Overton Park" and challenged the plan in court. Ultimately, the United States Supreme Court ruled in their favor in the landmark case Citizens to Preserve Overton Park v. Volpe.

Overton Park also includes the famous Shell Theatre, where Elvis Presley gave his first paid concert. Other bands that have played at the Shell include The Allman Brothers Band, The Grateful Dead, and Neil Diamond.

Overton Park's zoo (now named the Memphis Zoo) began in 1906, when a resident of Memphis couldn't keep his pet black bear in his backyard. He had it put in a pen in the park, which attracted many people, inspiring the idea to place more animals on display. The Memphis Zoo is now one of the largest in the United States, attracting 1 million visitors per year. The zoo houses two pandas, who are local celebrities, as well as three polar bears, brought in to the Northwest Passage exhibition which opened in March 2006.

The Overton Park Shell has been the subject of a large-scale renovation funded by the Levitt Foundation. An active location for local performance art built in the 1930's, the Shell hosted many famed musicians. Despite its central location within Overton Park, the Shell fell into disrepair in the 1980's and 1990's after the site was largely abandoned. Now called the Levitt Shell, this musical venue is being renovated by Memphis firm Askew Nixon Ferguson Architects with state-of-the-art audio and visual design. The project is due to be completed in the fall of 2008, when free concerts will once again be held in the space.
Street address:
Memphis, TN USA


County / Borough / Parish: Shelby County

Year listed: 1979

Historic (Areas of) Significance: Event, Architecture/Engineering

Periods of significance: 1900-1924

Historic function: Agriculture/Subsistence, Landscape, Recreation And Culture

Current function: Agriculture/Subsistence, Landscape, Recreation And Culture, Animal Facility, Museum, Outdoor Recreation, Park

Season start / Season finish: From: 1/1/2008 To: 12/31/2008

Primary Web Site: [Web Link]

Privately owned?: Not Listed

Hours of operation: Not listed

Secondary Website 1: Not listed

Secondary Website 2: Not listed

National Historic Landmark Link: Not listed

Visit Instructions:
Please give the date and brief account of your visit. Include any additional observations or information that you may have, particularly about the current condition of the site. Additional photos are highly encouraged, but not mandatory.
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