The Commercial Appeal
ARETHA FRANKLIN BIRTH HOME MAY BE DEMOLISHED
Efforts to save the house haven’t worked
Elvis Presley’s Graceland is the most famous musical home in the MidSouth, but it’s far from alone. Presley’s first home in Tupelo has become a museum, as has a former W.C. Handy house relocated to Beale Street.
Presley’s first adult home, in East Memphis, hosts events and blues pianist Memphis Slim’s Soulsville house has been converted into a kind of musical community center.
But now, another famed musical abode, once thought a candidate for similar preservation, could soon be demolished.
A Shelby County Environmental Court order on Thursday put the deteriorating birth home of soul queen Aretha Franklin into a city receivership with an order to “abate nuisance through demolition.”
“Nobody wants to tear it down, but also it can’t stay like it’s been, without being secured or maintained, forever,” said Steve Barlow, a staff attorney for the City of Memphis and a leader of the nonprofit Neighborhood Preservation, Inc.
The small home is on a tucked-away residential street in South Memphis, surrounded by other boarded-up properties. The front of the house at 406 Lucy Avenue is secured, but the left side is sagging and a fire a few years ago led to a collapsed roof on an added back portion, which remained open to entry as of Saturday.
Franklin, the most celebrated woman in the history of American soul music, was born in the front of the house on March 25, 1942, and lived there for two years before her father, Rev. C.L. Franklin, moved the family first to Buffalo and later to Detroit.