Visiting Memphis in 1940? Then Use This Guide.



Tourists visiting Memphis in 1940 probably picked up this brochure at local hotels, or maybe it was mailed to them by the Chamber of Commerce. It's a handy guide to the main attractions in and around our city.

Some of today's top draws aren't listed of course, such as Graceland or The Dixon Gallery and Gardens or FedExForum.

But many of the "old classics" are there, including the Memphis Zoo, the Mississippi River, various parks, and other sights-to-see.

What's interesting, at least to me though, are all the things listed in this 70-year-old brochure that have vanished. Among them: the Municipal Auditorium ("built at a cost of $2,000,000") , the Cossitt Library, the Goodwyn Institute Library, Sienna College (when it was still on Vance), and the Fairgrounds Casino Ballroom ("dancing in season three nights a week").

Then there's the whole paragraph on downtown movie theaters: "There are 30 theaters in Memphis with a total seating capacity of 43,959. Modern community theaters with the very latest equipment may be found in the suburban communities of the city. A list of the downtown theaters":
Loew's State (152 South Main)
Orpheum Theater (197 South Main)
Malco Palace Theater (81 Union Avenue)
Strand Theater (138 South Main)
Warner Theater (52 South Main).

Did you notice those names? The present-day Orpheum was called the Orpheum before it became the Malco. Boy, is that confusing! And, if this brochure is correct, Loew's Palace (currently the site of Parking Can Be Fun) was originally called the Malco Palace.

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Then you have the golf courses. The main ones are still here, but what intrigues me are two listed in the brochure:
McLean-Vollentine Golf Club — 9-hole public course located on North McLean, one block north of Vollentine.
Cherokee Trail Golf Course — 9-hole public course located on Pigeon Roost Road, about 3 miles east of Parkway and Lamar.

I have to admit that I'm not familiar with either of these two long-vanished golf courses. I'm pretty sure the first one is now the site of the University Cabana apartment complex (or whatever it's called these days), but I need to explore and find out just where Cherokee Trail was located.

Finally, the attractions include a list of swimming pools. First, those located outdoors:
Clearpool — U.S. Highway 78
East End Swimming Pool — 2016 Madison Avenue
Harbin's Swimming Pool — Hernando Road
Maywood — U.S. Highway 78
Municipal Swimming Pool — Mid-South Fairgrounds
Rainbow Lake — U.S. Highway 78

Isn't it strange that in one of the hottest places in the country, not a single one of these old swimming pools has survived?

And then there are the indoor pools:
Catholic Club — 185 Adams Avenue
DeVoy Athletic Club — Jefferson at Front
Nineteenth Century Club — 1433 Union Avenue
YMCA — 251 Madison Avenue
YWCA — 196 Monroe Avenue

Out of all those, the only pool left is at the Downtown YMCA. Heck, I never knew the Nineteenth Century Club even had a pool at all.

There's lots more in the old brochure — including a list of defunct industries, mainly related to the cotton industry — but I'll save those for another day.

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