The Commercial Appeal

Launch party Monday for James Lee House

- By Michael Lollar 901-529-2793

To celebrate renovation­s to the James Lee House in Victorian Village, a “launch party” Monday will offer food and entertainm­ent from 4- 6 p.m. at the mansion at 690 Adams.

Owner Jose Velazquez said workmen have spent the week removing leadbased paint from the home and will spend next week removing asbestos before beginning constructi­on on the 165-year-old mansion, which has been unoccupied since 1959.

The Downtown Memphis Commission, Victorian Village Inc., and the Associatio­n for the Preservati­on of Tennessee Antiquitie­s will play host for the launch with free food and entertainm­ent by singer Misti Rae Warren, said Dawn Vinson, spokeswoma­n for the Downtown Memphis Commission.

The $2.3 million renovation will turn the 8,100-square-foot home on what once was known as “Millionair­e’s Row” into a five-suite luxury bed-andbreakfa­st.

The home once was part of a private art school operated in both the Lee House and neighborin­g Woodruff-Fontaine House. When the school moved to become Memphis Art Academy, Woodruff-Fontaine remained open as a tourist attraction, while the Lee House has sat empty for 54 years. Velazquez said he hopes to open the house to the public by December.

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