Here's a Great View of White Station Tower from 1970

photo courtesy Special Collections, University of Memphis Libraries

Rooting through the old Memphis Press-Scimitar files in the Special Collections Department at the University of Memphis Libraries, I came across this wonderful photo showing the White Station Tower area, as it looked in 1970.

The view is looking east; that's Poplar Avenue cutting diagonally across the top right of the photo, and Mendenhall across the bottom.

The neighborhood just behind (east) of White Station Tower is today's Brookhaven Circle, with all the homes replaced by a variety of businesses, shops, and restaurants. The land between the building and those homes has just been cleared for Clark Tower. In the foreground, the old Globe Department Store, which later became Service Merchandise, is now home to Malco's Paradiso movie theatre. And the low flat building in the center, which for years housed Montesi's grocery store, is now home to Whole Foods and Office Depot.

Look closely, and you'll see a fire station at the bottom of the photo, facing Mendenhall (the low building with the square tower). That's still standing, but all that empty space behind it is now filled by the building and parking lot for Kroger.

To some readers, 1970 may not seem all that long ago, but pictures don't lie. The Poplar/Mendenhall area has changed rather dramatically in the past 40+ years.


Reader Comments:
Nov 15, 2013 07:59 am
 Posted by  Anonymous

Ahh, memories. I used to love to go to Service Merchandise as a kid. They had the best toys. Isn't that the library at the top as well?

Nov 15, 2013 11:00 am
 Posted by  michaelhuggins

Great photo. The circular floor at the top of White Station Tower was occupied by Pyrenees Restaurant, and I believe it revolved, as did Top of the 100 downtown. Across Poplar, you can see part of the McKinney-Truse neighborhood, an African-American community founded decades before in what was then a rural area.

At the right of the photo, you might take the one-storey building to be Houston's, since it stands on the same site and had the same address, 5000 Poplar, but it is actually a medical office building that was there until some years later, when Houston's replaced it. I visited an office in that building a few years after that photo was made.

Dec 13, 2013 12:13 pm
 Posted by  TNBlackRifle

Well, I see Bill Fite's Shell station on the east side of Mendenhall, Harry Mayer's DX station on the west side, along with Leonard's BBQ, as well as the Bellsouth Mutual Central Switch Office, Rexall Drugstore that became Houston's, and finally, at the bottom center the residence that became Folk's Folly Steakhouse.

Jan 8, 2014 04:15 pm
 Posted by  Anonymous

Why Go Anywhere Else, But Fred Montesi's?!!! I'm singing the jingle as I type.

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Ask Vance is the blog of Vance Lauderdale, the award-winning columnist of Memphis magazine and MBQ: Inside Memphis Business.  Vance is the author of three books: Ask Vance: The Best Questions and Answers from Memphis Magazine's History and Trivia Expert (2003), as well as Ask Vance: More Questions and Answers from Memphis Magazine's History Expert (2011) and Vance Lauderdale's Lost Memphis (2013). He is also the recipient of quite a few nice awards, the creator of several eye-catching wall calendars, and the only person we know with a vintage shock-treatment machine in his den. 

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