Monday, February 12, 2007

From: The Gates of Memphis

Dixie Homes from outer space and auld lang syne

I was scrolling around Google Earth and saw this very interesting street layout not far from Downtown:

After a few minutes I ciphered it was Dixie Homes, the housing project at Pauline and Poplar.

The architect of Dixie Homes was J. Frazer Smith, who was profiled in an article last June by Frederick Koeppel (I believe the CA has already Berlin Walled the article). I also came upon the essay The Art of Architecture: Modernism In Memphis 1890 - 1980 by architectural historian Judith Johnson. Turns out Smith was not only an architect but an early historical preservationist.
A complex person, he wrote a history of the early nineteenth-century plantation architecture of the Middle South, White Pillars, and simultaneously designed housing projects sensitive to recent international developments in housing design. During the Depression, Smith was also the regional chief of the Historic American Building Survey (HABS). Ironically, he would order the city’s original nineteenth century building stock located in the Market square slums surveyed by HABS before he demolished it for the construction of Lauderdale Courts.
The irony continues -- they've begun demolition of the Dixie Homes.

Karmic backlash 50 years after Smith's death.

By the way, below's an illustration of the Dixie Homes grounds from the final presentation [a very interesting pdf!] of last summer's Winchester Park/Intown Charette.

This might mean Smith's layout will live, if not his buildings.

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posted by gatesofmemphis

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