Celebrate May with walking tour of Bartlett’s Historic District

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The month of May is Preservation Month, where we celebrate the historic places, public lands, communities and cultural landmarks that make up our national identity. The City of Bartlett recognized the importance of preserving local history and established the Bartlett Historic Preservation Commission in 1999. Appointed volunteers on the Commission work hard to ensure that objective is met.

Since the weather in May is generally pleasant, you should find it a great time to walk or bike around the Historic District.

The District is basically Sycamore View and Court Street, from Main Street to North Street, including the east-west streets of Woodlawn, Blackwell and North.

There are at least 13 homes over 100 years old, 47 over 50 years old and 10 built in the past 50 years.

You’ll find many classic styles of homes: Carpenter Gothic, saltbox, Gothic revival, folk Victorian, craftsman and ranch. The following are some of the older houses in that area.
Starting just north of Main on Sycamore View, the first house you come to (2923) was built around 1870 for Romulus Alpha Pruden. W.J. Freeman’s grandmother, Julia A. Smith, later owned the home for many years. Next to it (2943) is the Barteau-Dickey house, a Bartlett Landmark. Built originally as a two-room cabin around 1860, it had further additions made by the Rev. Albert Shotwell and then by Colonel Clark Russell Barteau and his wife, Zura. After Col. Barteau died in 1900, his widow went to live with their daughter in Memphis, and the home was sold to James T. Dickey and his wife. Their daughter, Sarah, later married Paul W. Barrett.

Across the street is the William Ward house, built in Victorian piano style. It was later the home to the Lilly family (of the Lilly Carriage Company in Memphis) and also to Clarence Saunders of the Piggly Wiggly and Pink Palace, who died in the house in 1953. Judge Freeman Marr and his wife Nelda lived in the house from 1967 to 2005. Back across the street at 2957 is the Dickey-Drane house, built around 1890 for John Dickey, a local farmer. Later it was owned for many years by Eleanor Van-Hook Drane, a Bartlett teacher.

The oldest documented house in the Historic District is at 3029 Sycamore View. It was built in 1861 for the Rev. John Shelton and originally sat on 5.5 acres. The two-story house was originally in the Egyptian revival style. Just up and across the street is the 1913 Klinke home, built in the Memphis cottage style. Further up and on the west side of Sycamore View is the well-known Blackwell house, a Bartlett Landmark. Built in 1869 for Dr. Nicholas and Virginia Ward Blackwell, the Gothic revival house has many fine features normally found only in larger city homes of the period. Descendants of the Blackwell family lived there up until the 1980s.

Just across Blackwell Street and facing Sycamore View (3101) is the McCallum-Cooper house. This Bartlett Landmark was built circa 1870 in the gable-front-and-wing Victorian cottage style. W.J. Freeman was born in this home in 1907. It has been in the Cooper family for many years now. Located at 3292 Sycamore View, the Moser log cabin looks very much the same as it did when it was built in 1892. Henry Clifton Sr. built it from hand-hewn logs of the yellow poplar trees on the property.

At the northeast corner of North and Court streets (3192) is the 1866 Benjamin W. Walker house. It was owned for many years by the Gowen family. The Graves have lived in it since 1966. Across the street at 3189 Court is the 1906 William Bledsoe house. In 1931 his son Robert married Elva Talbot, and she moved into the home. Elva would go on to found both the Bartlett Historical Society and the Bartlett Museum. Bledsoe descendants still live in the home today.

Heading south to Blackwell Street, 3075 Court is the house built for the Cannon family around 1878. This is one of several examples of carpenter Gothic style around the district. The Neyman family has lived there since 1972. At the corner of Court and Woodlawn is the house built by M.J. Brooks in 1884. As part of the purchase of this lot and others, Brooks Avenue was named for the family. It was to run parallel with Court between Blackwell and Woodlawn and end at the town square, but neither the street nor the town square was ever constructed.

Across from the Brooks house is the Gotten house at 2969 Court St. Built in 1871, this New England saltbox style house is the home of the Bartlett Museum and the Bartlett Historical Society. It is both a Bartlett Landmark and on the National Register of Historic Places.

For more information on Bartlett landmarks and a map of the Historic District, go online to cityofbartlett.org/88/Historic-Preservation-Commission. If you feel an additional place should be landmarked, contact the Bartlett Historic Preservation Commission through Bartlett City Planning.

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. Contact him at bartlettmediaguy@gmail.com.

1940s map of Bartlett City limits