Annesdale, the stately Italianate-style mansion and seven-acre property at 1325 Lamar, has likely played host to a fair share of parties since it was built in 1850. But, for at least the past five years, the house hasn't seen much life.
The mansion's glory days will soon make a comeback, thanks to a vote by the Memphis City Council to allow new owner Ken Robison to host weddings, birthdays, corporate retreats, and other events on the property.
Robinson purchased Annesdale in 2011 and immediately began a massive renovation of the 9,000-square-foot home. The property, which was in the Snowden family for decades, had sat vacant for four years prior and had fallen into disrepair.
"It was hard to see the damage until we really got in there. We had severe termite damage, and we've had to tear out entire floors and start over," Robison said.
Robison plans to have the property ready for events by next June. But he and his 7-year-old daughter are also using the house as their residence.
Indoor events will hold a maximum of 150 people, and outdoor events have the potential for a larger number of guests. Robison has agreed to provide a minimum of 65 parking spaces on the grounds of his property.
When asked why he chose to open the house to the public, Robison said he simply wants to share the home's grandeur with others.
"Because the house has been in the Snowden family for 100 years or so, unless you knew them, you probably didn't get an opportunity to see the house. It's a hidden treasure with 14-foot ceilings, rolling hills, and historic trees. It's breathtaking," Robison said.
Residents of the Annesdale-Snowden neighborhood were pleased when Robison made the purchase, but when they found out about his plans for special events, a few changed their supportive tune. Opponents of the special event use spoke out at the city council meeting, citing concerns about parking overflow and noise.
"My bedroom is facing where they would set up bands for parties. We would have a lot of noise, and we would have parking in front of our house for most events," said Carissa Hussong, who has lived in a historic home at the corner of Central and Snowden Circle for 12 years.
Shay Kearney, a resident of Agnes Place for 13 years, said the noise doesn't concern her, but she is worried about losing her parking space.
"Most people in this neighborhood have driveways, but I don't. I am dependent on the space in front of my house to park my car," Kearney said. "If it were just me, it'd be a minor inconvenience, but I'm an expectant mother. The thought of coming home with a baby in the car and having to park a quarter-mile down the street worries me."
Hussong said the one thing that would make her happier with the plan would be if Robison were to join the Annesdale-Snowden Historic District. Currently, the property doesn't have that designation, which means a future owner could build apartments on the property without council approval.
"It would be nice, if we're having to put up with these inconveniences, to know that he is truly trying to save the house, the property, and the neighborhood," Hussong said.
Robison said he is considering joining the district, but he is still researching the implications of that decision. For now, he said neighbors needn't worry about anyone building apartments on the property.
"I don't plan on selling," Robison said. "It's going to get passed down to my daughter someday, so I don't think they have anything to worry about."