Editor’s note: This is the third in a series of articles about Bartlett historical preservation.
Bartlett recognizes the importance of celebrating and preserving the historic places, public lands, communities and cultural landmarks that make up its identity. Appointed volunteers on the Bartlett Historic Preservation Commission work hard to preserve the history of the city’s lesser-known and more familiar landmarks.
Local landmarks are defined as “a building, property, or object that has a special character or special historic or aesthetic interest or value as part of the development, heritage, or cultural characteristics” of the City of Bartlett. Bartlett has more than two dozen landmarks, including individual, interior, exterior, scenic landmarks and the Historic District.
Previous articles in this series described some lesser known landmarks, but there are plenty of stories about the better-known ones.
The Gotten House was built by local businessman Nicholas Gotten. Gotten was an immigrant from Prussia who came to Union Depot (Bartlett) in 1860 as a blacksmith and miller.
After serving under General Nathan Bedford Forrest in the Third Tennessee Cavalry, he returned here in 1865 to build a blacksmith shop, gristmill, boiler engine and cotton gin. He married Julia Coleman of Raleigh in 1869 and first rented the house across from the Blackwell House (now the landmarked McCallum-Cooper House).
They purchased the vacant lot on Court in 1870 for $300 and completed the traditional New England saltbox style home in 1871. The City of Bartlett ended up owning it nearly 100 years later, using it as a police office before leasing it to the Bartlett Historical Society for use as a museum. It was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2002.
The museum, located at 2969 Court Street, is open the first and third Sunday of each month, excluding holidays, and admission is free. There will also be a holiday open house in December, announced on the museum’s Facebook page.
Cedar Hall on Broadway Road in the Ellendale area was built in 1845 by Dr. Samuel Bond and was called Avenue for the avenue of trees lining the approach. The original driveway ran close to where Cedar Road is today, extending to Memphis-Arlington.
It is a two-story brick Greek Revival mansion and was one of the earliest brick mansions in Shelby County. The mansion cost around $9,000 to build, with 16-foot ceilings on the first floor, 13-foot ceilings on the second and 9-foot ceilings on the third.
Bond died there in 1862, heavily indebted, and his estate was forced to sell the home and land, which Memphis merchant Edmund Orgill acquired in 1867. It was listed for sale until 1870 when Joseph Foltz made a down payment to Orgill on the home.
Unfortunately, Foltz was soon shot and killed at a party there (the murderer was immediately gunned down by the other guests). As that tragedy most likely scared off other potential bidders, Orgill then moved his own family into the home, renamed it The Cedars, and raised fine livestock on the farm.
After his death, his widow sold the property and it went through several owners before being purchased in 1977 by Jay and Jeanette Rainey, who lovingly restored it.
Cedar Hall was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1994, landmarked by Bartlett in 2017 and received the Bartlett Historic Preservation Award. It is currently a venue for events and for bed-and-breakfast guests and can be found at 3712 Broadway Road. Read more at cedarhall.com.
Davies Manor began as a simple one-room log cabin built in the early 1800s and is considered to be the oldest house in Shelby County.
Joel W. Royster made several additions to the original cabin between 1831-1837. The Davies family came to Shelby County in 1838, bought the house in 1851 and added the dining room in the 1860s. The Davies family added to the lands, bringing the total up to approximately 2,000 acres.
A Davies family member lived in the home until 1931, when it was left to Ellen Davies-Rodgers, who began the restoration project. She died in 1994 and the Davies Manor Association took over the task of preserving the structure.
The property was an extensive working plantation with a library, post office and general store. Today the home and grounds are a museum and cultural center plus an event/wedding venue. Open Tuesday through Saturday from early April to mid-December, the plantation is at 9336 Davies Plantation Road. See more information online at daviesmanorplantation.org.
For more information on Bartlett landmarks, visit cityofbartlett.org/88/Historic-Preservation-Commission and click on “historical landmarks.” To request that an additional place be landmarked, contact the Bartlett Historic Preservation Commission through Bartlett City Planning at (901) 385-6417.
KEVIN QUINN, a guest writer for The Bartlett Express, is an appointed member of the Shelby County Historical Commission, the Bartlett Historical Preservation Commission and the Davies Manor Association, and he is a member and technical advisor for the Bartlett Historical Society. He’s owned several historic homes, including his current one that he and his wife fully restored. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.