MEMPHIS, TN - Memphians fear the auction block could mean the chopping block for a historic Midtown Mansion. After more than a year on the market, the women's civic group, The 19th Century Club, is putting their building up for auction. The mansion sits on the corner of Union and Watkins, and the auction could mean the end of the historic building.
In the middle of one of the busiest streets in the city, lies a mansion that time forgot. The executive director of Memphis Heritage, June West, says the 1906 mansion has, "amazing wood work, stain glass windows, tremendously elegant construction." She calls it one of a kind, "It's not in that bad of shape. It's got issues, but what you have to remember, is that you cannot rebuild that building today." West says, "There's no way you could even come close to costing it out and being able to do it effectively and have what you have there."
The problem is it needs so much work. A report done in 2009 estimated the restoration to cost between $1.5 and $2 million. Lyn Heathcott is the president of the women's club. She says, "We no longer can support it financially, it's just a sign of the times."
The group hasn't been able to meet in their building for years, and now it's a financial burden. After spending a year on the market it's up for auction. Bids to The Morris Auction Group are due by noon on Thursday. "We're going to take the highest, best bid and of course best to us would mean restoring it but it's a business so we'll have to see, we're going to hope for the best."
Both women fear the sale could mean the demolition of history. West says, "I don't even want to go there."
However, Heathcott has some say in the matter, "I was just hoping against hope that someone will come through and save it."
The mansion and the one acre lot it sits on were listed recently at $1.5 million.