The Magevney and Mallory-Neely houses in Victorian Village have taken their second budget-related blow in five months.
Last October, the homes, which were once open almost daily for touring, were reduced to operating by appointment only. On March 1st, the historic homes, operated by the Pink Palace Family of Museums, were closed to the public in an attempt to adjust to city budget reductions.
If the city's budget improves, the historic homes may re-open on an appointment-only schedule on July 1st, the start of a new fiscal year. Other Victorian Village facilities, including the Woodruff-Fontaine House, will remain open, since they're not funded by the city budget.
The Magevney House, built in 1836, was originally occupied by Irish immigrants. The Mallory-Neely House, circa 1852, was renovated in 1890 and is best known for its large collection of authentic household furnishings purchased with the family's cotton wealth.
Kate Dixon served as manager of historic properties for both houses since the summer of 1989, but on February 21st, she was notified that she'd be laid off effective March 23rd.
Flyer: How much did it cost the city to keep Victorian Village open?
Dixon: Our city of Memphis operating budget for the Mallory-Neely and Magevney houses at the start of this fiscal year was about $123,000. Maintenance and collections management cost about $60,000, or half of the total. Even though the houses will be closed to the public, the city will need to continue to invest this amount for their physical maintenance. The other half was used for staff, which enabled us to do public tours.
In addition to city funding, another $60,000 was generated and spent for programming through Memphis Museums, Inc., a not-for-profit organization which partners with the city for the operation of the Pink Palace Family of Museums.
What is Memphis losing?
The history of the residents of these houses highlights our community's immigrant population base and the importance of cotton to the development of our region's economy.
They complement heritage tourism in Memphis. They offer educational and entertaining cultural programming to the public. Adult groups have enjoyed teas and luncheons, along with house tours.
The houses are important to the future development of the Victorian Village Historic District. The Center City Commission has identified Victorian Village as a prime neighborhood for development within the Biomedical Zone
Do you foresee Victorian Village being able to re-open?
Absolutely! Our city has already lost many of its 19th-century historic structures. The Mallory-Neely and Magevney houses (along with Woodruff-Fontaine) are Memphis' best opportunity to preserve 19th-century residential structures. n