“Realtors don’t show people this neighborhood—you have to find it,” says Barbara Viser. She’s is talking about the 83-block section of midtown Memphis called Central Gardens. Originally part of the estate of Solomon Rozelle, who settled in Shelby County in 1815 on 1600 acres of then-wilderness, Central Gardens is one of the country’s best old-house neighborhoods. It’s truly a showcase of varied, late-19th- and early-20th-century domestic architecture.
The area was developed between 1850 and 1930, and by 1900 it was called “the newest, most prestigious neighborhood” in Memphis. Central Gardens is made up of several subdivisions, which include Merriman Park, Harbert Place, and Bonnie Crest, as well as several large estates that were subdivided.
“The boom years were between 1900 and 1929,” Viser says. “That’s when most of the area was built up with homes, from elegant mansions to Queen Anne cottages and cozy bungalows. A great many are American Foursquares.”