Memphis History: 8 ‘Legendary’ Housing Projects In Memphis, TN

Written by on May 28, 2016

Walter J Simmons Projects - Apartments Memphis (Photo: C. Littlejohn)

This is a list of eight of the most known and 'legendary' housing projects in Memphis, Tennessee including some known and unknown Memphis history and facts about them.

On our list of Memphis, TN's 'Legendary' Housing Projects, we included some of the names of people who the projects were actually named after as well as some history on them.

Starting out our list, which is in no order, will be:

Walter J. Simmons

Walter J. Simmons projects was one of the last housing projects in Memphis to be closed down and removed from the landscape. The property, which was located at the corner of Knight Arnold and Lamar Ave, was once a home to many residents who lived in a housing project that was known throughout Memphis, TN. Residents, as of 2002, were being vacated which left the property vacant for many years. There are plans this Spring 2016 to finally begin constructing new property at the 34 acre landmark area.

Lemoyne Gardens

LeMoyne Gardens aka LMG was the housing project which sat directly across the street from LeMoyne–Owen College, the historically black college located in Memphis, Tennessee. LeMoyne Owen College was one of the first of its kind built for the education of Negroes in the country. Dr. Francis J. LeMoyne was known as an abolitionist who allegedly began fighting against slavery some 40 years before the Civil War.

LeMoyne Gardens was also the birthplace to some popular Memphis rap underground acts including LMG Mafia, G-Train, etc.

Dixie Homes

Dixie Homes is reportedly one of the first housing projects in the country built, which housed many black families in the beginning until its end.

Dixie Homes was also a popular location for the beginning of underground Memphis rap such as Dixie Homes Posse who worked with many underground rap acts including the likes of Kingpin Skinny Pimp and other popular acts.

Hurt Village

The Hurt Village housing project was built in the 1950s. The housing project was named after Dr. William H. Hurt, a white doctor and philanthropist. Although the housing community was predominantly african american in the end, many don't know that when it was first built, it was built to reportedly attract more whites to the area. That plan was strayed following the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King in Memphis, according to a play written by Katori Hall entitled Hurt Village, that was inspired by the housing project.

Memphis rap artists such as Juicy J and Kingpin Skinny Pimp were even inspired to make songs about the housing project.

L.M. Graves Manor

Graves Manor is another housing project reportedly linked to a doctor named L. M. Graves and sits on another landmark area. The public housing project complex however became known by most for its nickname of PV a.k.a Pussy Valley, for the promiscuity and reputed 'fast' women and 'girl chasing' men who frequented the housing project. As a matter of fact, most people have never even heard the name Graves Manor, only PV. Yes, it became known for its sexuality though there's much more history behind the landmark area.

Cleaborn Homes

Cleaborn Homes housing project reportedly stood from 1955 when it was built on 27 acres up until 2011 and housed many Memphis residents, in the 1000's reportedly in the 650 unit complex. The housing project was named after Korean War veteran Edward O. Cleaborn and ironically became known as the neighborhood 3rd Ward. Cleaborn Homes residents were asked to vacate in 2010, and just one year later the complex was demolished. In 2015, the rich history of the housing project along with the family were at a rededication ceremony for the redevelopment valued in the millions of the housing project.

Cleaborn Homes Memphis (1955-2011)

Foote Homes

Foote Homes housing project was built in 1940 and sits on 46 acres near downtown Memphis. Foote Homes is a legendary landmark named after black federal officer and lawmaker William H. Foote, and is the last remaining housing project in Memphis, TN.

Foote was killed in Yazoo City, Mississippi by a lynch mob who stormed the jail that Foote was in awaiting trial after he fatally shot three white men who planned to lynch and beat a black man named John James. After learning of the posse's plan, Foote confronted the men with 10 other black men with him, fatally shooting three, and was injured himself with the butt of a gun. The posse, who reportedly called themselves "the whipping party," chased down and killed John James. Foote and three others were later indicted on murder and while awaiting trial, they were killed by an angry mob who stormed the jailhouse. Before the incident, which occurred in 1883, Foote served as a constable, a town marshal and as a lawmaker who helped pass the Civil Rights Act of 1871 limiting the activities of the Ku Klux Klan. Foote, a sworn agent with the U.S. Treasury Department's Bureau of Internal Revenue, was later honored at the National Law Enforcement Memorial in Judiciary Square and has since been named as the first African-American federal officer killed on duty.


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