Real Estate » Hot Properties


Circa-1907 manor house on Peabody.


Memphis architects Walk Jones Sr. and Max H. Furbringer produced some of the city’s finest early 20th-century houses. They designed this house, Hillcrest, for Mrs. Walter Goodman and Mrs. J.M. Richardson, a widow and her widowed daughter. The Goodman family had owned the Mississippi Central Railroad and operated a major cotton plantation near Southaven.

The design of Hillcrest skillfully combines elements of the Colonial Revival and French Renaissance Revival. The facade, with its elegant blend of stonework patterns and textures, gives the impression of two townhouses joined by a central entrance bay, a characteristic often found in French and English country houses. The porch has turned stone balusters in the Colonial Revival style; the open terraces at either end of the porch have rectangular stone-block balusters often found on Craftsman houses.

Hillcrest has an unusual floor plan for the period: Its front door opens into an entrance hall, but the “public” rooms of the first floor are not immediately accessible from the hall. Instead, the entrance hall leads to a cross-hall opening to the monumental main stair, which is on axis with the entrance. The major rooms open off the cross hall, instead of being connected. This arrangement provides a strong sense of privacy and separation from the entrance, even though the public rooms are at the front of the house.

In a display of technical virtuosity, Jones and Furbringer used a different architectural style for each of the major areas on the first floor. A screen of fluted columns with Italian Renaissance-inspired Scamozzi capitals marks the entrance to the cross hall, where the stair is framed by tall, French Renaissance Revival newels. The stair also has a full-width banquette at its landing and a dazzling two-story window wall of leaded stained glass.

The east room, known as the men’s parlor, is detailed in the English Arts and Crafts style and dominated by an extraordinary fireplace inset with peacock-blue tiles. Beyond the men’s parlor is a small suite, originally used as Mrs. Goodman’s bedroom and bath, decorated in the Colonial Revival style, which would serve equally well as either a family room, guest suite, or first-floor master suite.

The ladies’ parlor to the west of the entrance has delicate plaster panels and pilasters, deep cornices, and a commanding mantelpiece detailed with both Colonial Revival and French Renaissance Revival elements. The “tapestry room,” adjacent to the ladies’ parlor and originally used as the dining room, has a coffered ceiling and European tapestry wall panels original to the house.

The kitchen borders on being institutional both in size and equipment, with commercial appliances that could handle any sort of entertaining event. Not that the kitchen needs enlarging, but opening the kitchen to the back porch would provide a small, informal dining area with a view to the back garden. A butler’s pantry adjacent to the kitchen has its original floor-to-ceiling cupboards which could easily hold tableware in the “service for 200” category.

The second floor has five bedrooms and three baths, all large and elegantly appointed with their original fixtures. The master bedroom has a Colonial Revival fireplace and a wall of built-in cupboards, and its adjoining bath has a delightfully odd radiator with towel-warmer shelves. A suite on the third floor could be a den, media room, or governess’ quarters.

The house is on a one-acre corner lot enclosed by a brick wall. The house and garage are on the west side of the lot, leaving the east for development as pool, tennis courts, or gardens. Hillcrest has been meticulously preserved and is ready to provide the setting for another century of elegant living on a grand scale.

1554 Peabody Avenue
House: 7,300 square feet
5 bedrooms, 5 1/2 baths
Backhouse/garage: 1,200 square feet
1 bedroom, 1 bath
Realtor: The Hobson Company
272-2619, 761-1622

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