Photo courtesy Special Collections, University of Memphis Libraries
In our September issue, I tell the remarkable, heart-warming story of the “Sunset Home,” a cozy cottage erected in the 1950s by Eudora Baptist Church, so that elderly Christian couples could live out “the sunset years of their lives” in peace and harmony.
But now I’ve turned up a mystery.
The Special Collections Department of the University of Memphis Libraries has an old Memphis Press-Scimitar newspaper file about the home. That’s how I found out where the house was located, when it was built, what it was for, and — more to our purpose here — just who lived in it. Every one of the articles mentions that the home was first made available to an elderly couple named Mr. and Mrs. Frank Ward. There are photos showing the Wards greeting visitors in their new home, and just a few years later, there’s a photo showing Mr. Ward returning the house keys to church officials. Presumably he was moving out, but the story is rather unclear, since there’s no mention of his wife. Did he have to leave if she passed away? The house was expressly built for Christian couples, after all.
But just when you’d expect that Eudora would announce the next family who would be entitled to live in the home, instead the church abruptly decided to close the house, and it was later torn down. You’ll have to read my original article to find out more about this.
So what’s the mystery? Well, in that same Press-Scimitar folder is a nice photo of the couple shown here, and they are definitely not Mr. and Mrs. Ward. Instead, writing on the back identifies them as ”Mr. and Mrs. Clayton Adams” and the writing also says “Sunset Home.” There’s no date on the photo. They do indeed seem to be sitting inside the home, because you can see the home’s distinctive awnings through the window behind them.
But who are they? Did they live in the house after the Wards moved out? If so, no mention is made of that in the newspaper articles. And no one who belonged to Eudora at the time is around to tell me more about this.
So, that’s all I can tell you. The Wards lived in the house, and then a photo shows up that suggests another family entirely, the Adams couple, also lived in the house at some time. But that’s all I know about it.