Nights in the Lauderdale Mansion can be long and lonely, and sometimes I spend those dreary hours poring through old stacks of magazines, books, and even telephone directories.
And so it was that, while reading — page by page — the 1900 city directory for Memphis, this interesting advertisement caught my eye. Not too many years ago, the Loeb family was known for its citywide chain of barbecue restaurants and laundries (not in the same building, of course). And I hope Memphians know that Henry Loeb served as Memphis mayor, after a long stint in government as the sanitation commissioner, among other things. In more recent years, the company has concentrated on real estate development, with perhaps its most crowning achievement (to date) being the amazing revitalization of once-dormant Overton Square.
In fact, the Loebs’ work in Memphis has been so impressive that in 2014 Memphis magazine named company president Bob Loeb our “Memphian of the Year.”
But even I didn’t realize just how far back the family’s business interests went. And I must say I didn’t know they operated a public bathhouse downtown at the corner of Main and Monroe. What I also didn’t know is this: What was the difference between a “plain” and a “Turkish” bath?
Looks like I’ll be spending even more hours trying to solve this mystery.
By the way, what an innocent time it was, in the early 1900s, when telephone numbers were only two digits!