The William R. Moore Cottage Mystery



Newsletter courtesy Special Collections, University of Memphis Libraries

In our October 2012 issue, I wrote a heartwarming column about the William R. Moore School of Technology — perhaps better known today as Moore Tech — where students are trained in all kinds of hands-on crafts: plumbing, auto mechanics, electricity, carpentry, you name it.

And if you were studying carpentry there, you didn't just build some bookends, or a gun rack.

Nope. You built a house.

Well, technically, a child's playhouse, as shown in this 1940 issue of the William R. Moore School newsletter.

But what a playhouse it was! Complete with fireplace and steeply shingled room, the wooden cottage included a bedroom, living room, kitchen, and breakfast room. (No bathroom, though.) According to the newsletter, this fine-looking little home was designed by student Robert Irwin and constructed by James Bazemore. How many homes today are designed and built by just two people?

Okay, that's all very interesting, but why did I title this column a "mystery"? Well, because I want to know what happened to the playhouse. It's not only very nice looking, but it seems to be very substantial. I wonder if they donated it to some organization, or perhaps sold it to an individual in town?

I know it's a long way back to 1940, but if anybody can recall seeing this little building anywhere, or knows what happened to it, please let me know.

Reader Comments:
Sep 13, 2013 11:05 am
 Posted by  midtowner2

I don't know where it is, but I just noticed that it was designed by Robert Irwin (1912-1990). Robert Lee "Buddy" Irwin, Jr. was a Memphis builder. In 1940 he was 28 years old and had a 5 year old daughter, his only child. He is listed as "carpenter" that year on the census, but he became a well respected builder in later years, which would lead me to think he probably went to the Moore school for drafting training. It would be no surprise that he may have designed the playhouse for his daughter, Joan.

Actually, his stamp on the world was his scouting leadership. Buddy Irwin was widely respected in the Boy Scouts of America while being the Scoutmaster for Troop 97 in Memphis. He did a lot for many boys through the years.

Buddy lived on Clancy in 1940 and on McCorkle in Whitehaven for many years before he died.

Sep 13, 2013 11:32 am
 Posted by  Anonymous

James Bazemore is listed as a carpenter in civilian life when he enlisted in the army on January 21, 1941 (11 months before Pearl Harbor). James E Bazemore was born in 1919, so he would have been around 21 in 1940 when the playhouse was built. He died in WWII in 1945 and is buried in the cemetery at Ft. McKinley in Manila, Philippines.

Sep 30, 2013 02:59 pm
 Posted by  Anonymous

So, on the historic-memphis.com site, they have a scanned publication from William R. Moore that they think is from 1949.

There is a completely different cottage pictured in this yearbook? anniversary book? that has a little "For Sale" sign beside it.

It's in the image labeled "Page 26" near the bottom of the page.

http://historic-memphis.com/memphis/w-r-moore/w-r-moore.html

Sep 30, 2013 02:59 pm
 Posted by  Anonymous

So, on the historic-memphis.com site, they have a scanned publication from William R. Moore that they think is from 1949.

There is a completely different cottage pictured in this yearbook? anniversary book? that has a little "For Sale" sign beside it.

It's in the image labeled "Page 26" near the bottom of the page.

http://historic-memphis.com/memphis/w-r-moore/w-r-moore.html

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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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