The word repurpose and renovate have become buzz words in our community. After years of operating under the philosophy of new and modern is the only way to go, builders and developers are finally starting to see that repurposing and re-imagining a space has its place in growth as well. We have seen this play out several times in recent years around our city. Sears Crosstown being one of the best examples, a crowing jewel in Memphis architecture and real estate. We have another chance to save a beautiful building with a rich history.
The William C. Ellis & Sons Ironworks and Machine Shop located at 241-245 S. Front opened in 1862. When it closed in December of 2016, it had earned a place in Memphis history as the longest running family owned business in a single location. It was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1983. Before closing it’s doors in 2016, a deal was brokered with the Carlisle Group who purchased the 137 year old property with plans to move forward on it’s “One Beale” development. It was rumored the building was to be demolished to make room for new luxury high-rises and a parking garage. But Chase Carlisle listened to the pleas from Memphis Heritage, a non-profit that works to maintain architecturally and historically significant buildings in the Mid-South area.
Last Thursday night, Memphis Heritage hosted a tour and informative meeting inside the beautiful William C. Ellis & Sons Ironwork and Machine Shop. After touring the three buildings, those in attendance heard Chance Carlisle share his vision for this historic property. The building above with its gorgeous view of the Mississippi River and the iconic Hernando Desoto Bridge is slated to become a ballroom and event venue. With its high ceilings and beautiful brick archway, this will be an excellent addition to the Memphis downtown. ThIs building is the original foundry storage building and is being discussed as being used for an upscale tavern/ whiskey tasking. The largest of the buildings, the machine shop, and garage that face Front Street(the first picture in this post) is being discussed for an open and airy conference room. By re-imagining this property and listening to suggestions from Memphians who loved this building and desired to see its rich history preserved, Carlisle LLC has joined the Memphis renovation revolution.