National Register of Historic Places News

By Dr. J Ethan Holden

Three Tennessee Properties Added to the National Register of Historic Places

The National Register of Historic Places is the nation’s official list of cultural resources worthy of preservation. It is part of a nationwide program that coordinates and supports efforts to identify, evaluate and protect historic resources. The State Historic Preservation Office administers the program in Tennessee. The state’s new listings are:

Photograph Courtesy of Wesley Byram and Margot Payne.

Central Gardens Historic District (Additional Documentation and Boundary Increase)

Listed 11/17/2023

(Memphis – Shelby County)

The Central Gardens Historic District in Memphis was originally listed in the National Register of Historic Places in 1982. Central Gardens was one of the most prestigious communities in Memphis during the early twentieth century, and many of the city’s most prominent citizens called the neighborhood home. The earliest building in the neighborhood was constructed in 1852, though the most intensive development in the neighborhood occurred between 1905 and 1925. The updated nomination explores this evolution and the impact that the neighborhood had on Memphis’ broader community planning initiatives, in addition to reiterating the architectural significance of the district. Central Gardens was recognized as a Historic Conservation District by the Memphis Landmarks Commission in 1993. This recognition and the efforts of the Central Gardens Association ensures the district continues to be preserved and protected.

Photograph Courtesy of Rebecca Schmitt.

Omicron Sigma Chapter House of Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority, Incorporated

Listed 12/4/2023

(Memphis – Shelby County)

Located in Memphis, Shelby County, the nominated property is locally significant for both its role as the headquarters of the Omicron Sigma Chapter of Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority and for its architecture. The house was originally constructed circa 1913 by John H. Fisher and is an important local example of the Folk Victorian style. Many of its original architectural characteristics remain, including its decorative brackets and elaborate porch. The Omicron Sigma Chapter acquired the house in August of 1957 from the Top Hat & Tails Club. Founded in May of 1937, the Omicron Sigma Chapter is part of Sigma Gamma Rho, an international African American sorority dedicated to the advancement of their members’ personal and professional lives and one of the “Divine Nine”. The chapter hosted many of their most important community service events at the house, including the Teen-Town program and “Rhomania”. The Sorors of Omicron Sigma continue to maintain the property and serve the community through various programming, including Operation BigBookBag, Project Cradle Care, and RHOck the Vote!.

Photograph Courtesy of Rebecca Schmitt.

Harlinsdale Farm (Boundary Increase)

Listed October 23, 2023

(Franklin – Williamson County)

The Harlin House is located near the Harlinsdale Farm in Franklin, Williamson County and is locally significant for its history and architecture. The Harlin House was constructed circa 1860 and served as the residence for multiple owners in the area. In 1942, Alex F. Harlin and William Wirt Harlin bought the property when they expanded their horse farm. The house became the home of Wirt’s son and daughter-in-law, Bill Harlin and Barbara Ann Nunnaly. Bill played a major role in Harlinsdale Farm’s operations and served as the President of the Tennessee Walking Horse Breeders’ and Exhibitors’ Association. The Harlin family lived in the house until 1974. Because the Harlin House was associated with the Harlinsdale Farm during the Harlin’s tenure, the boundaries for the original Harlinsdale Farm nomination were expanded to include the Harlin House. The current owner continues to preserve and maintain stewardship of the house.