Lauderdale Courts – This marker was dedicated on Tuesday, August 11 at 11 am 282 North Second Street, Memphis (On the west side of the complex where the Presley family’s first Memphis residence was located).


Built in 1936 by the Federal Emergency Administration of Public Works, Lauderdale Courts was one of the first federal housing projects in the nation. It replaced substandard housing with clean, modern dwellings for the poor. The Courts were built along property adjoining Bayou Gayoso, which had been lined in concrete and covered by the extension of Lauderdale Street. Designed in the Georgian Revival style, the Courts contained 449 apartments in buildings one to three stories high. Part of Market Street was converted to green space. Memphis Housing Authority (MHA) selected families based upon financial need. Conforming to the segregation laws of the time, only white families were considered for residency. In 2000, MHA renovated the Courts into mixed-income housing under the Hope VI program and renamed it as Uptown Square.


Elvis Presley and his parents, Vernon and Gladys, lived at 185 Winchester, Apt. 328, from October 1949 to January 1953. Former residents remember foremost that Elvis liked to sing and play guitar. He practiced in the basement and performed for neighbors on the front steps of his building. Elvis volunteered to sing at teenage dances in the Recreation Center. Johnny Burnett, founder of the Rock ‘n Roll Trio, sometimes refused to let Elvis perform. The Presleys moved in 1953 because their income exceeded the level allowed for project residents. Bill Black also lived in the Courts, but he did not meet Elvis until they recorded together at Sun Records in 1954. For three years Black and Scotty Moore were Elvis’ original band members.


Poplar Tunes – Marker will be dedicated Tuesday, August 11 at 10 am, 308 Poplar Ave., Memphis


Calling itself “Memphis’ Original Record Shop,” Poplar Tunes lived up to its billing. Founders Joe Cuoghi and John Novarese opened the store in 1946, selling records for the retail, wholesale and jukebox trade. Demo records lined the shelves with turntables at the end of each row, allowing customers to hear records before deciding to buy. A young Elvis Presley, who lived nearby, bought his first record here. As his career began to take off, Elvis frequented the shop, hiding in a corner to hear how customers were reacting to his latest release. Another drop-in was Sam Phillips of Sun Records, often introducing Cuoghi to new talent, such as Jerry Lee Lewis. The store’s success led to the founding of Hi Records, headquartered next door. Hi’s most famous artists were the Bill Black Combo, Willie Mitchell and Al Green.


Before the days of “Top 40” charts, Poplar Tunes, circulating its own chart, became a barometer and major influence of popular music tastes. Boosting the store’s reputation was disc jockey Dewey Phillips. With his free-wheeling, rapid-fire banter, ‘Daddy-O-Dewey’ urged his listeners to: “Get yourself a load of goober dust, take it on down to Joe Cuoghi at Poplar Tunes and tell him Phillips sent you.” During off hours Phillips and local artists would visit the shop, spin new releases and rate them. He compared his picks and exchanged industry gossip with Cuoghi, who was regarded as the city’s foremost music insider and often a make-or-break critic of new releases. Young artists felt they had arrived if Cuoghi invited them to hold autograph signings at Poplar Tunes. Phillips died at age 46 in 1968. Cuoghi died two years later, at age 48, leaving Novarese to run the shop. It closed in 2009


On Sunday, August 16 at 11:00 a.m., the Shelby County Historical Commission will be dedicating a historical marker at Oakville Missionary Baptist Church, 3167 Knight Road, Memphis.   The Sunday morning worship service is open to the public and all welcome to attend, with the dedication following the close of the service.


Founded in 1871 and organized in 1872, this church is among Shelby County’s oldest active African-American congregations. Originally known as “Oakville Colored Church”, it was organized by former slaves and their families and flourished during the Reconstruction period after the Civil War. Founder Rev. Rubin Reed was assisted by Reverends Morris Henderson, Dennis Morgan, Alfort Cohen, who furnished the later name (Oakville Baptist), Mose Henderson and Ben Love. The church thereafter was named in church records as The Oakville Missionary Baptist Church, but this name was never formally recorded as such in the county records. The property for the church was donated by the Edward LeMaster family with the understanding that it would always be used for a church or school.

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Most of the church history was recorded from the 1st administration in 1872 to the 17th administration in 1923, but little is known between 1924-1938. In 1938 Rev. Henry J. Thompson was elected pastor and served until 1980. Early in his tenure services were held in an old frame building, which served as a school during the week and a place of worship on Sundays. Membership grew under Reverend Thompson’s leadership and, continuing with his successor Rev. Richmond Savage, several additions and renovations were made expanding it to the edifice seen today.   On this same property is the church graveyard, which includes markers of deceased members whose births pre-date the Emancipation Proclamation.

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Placed by the Oakville Missionary Baptist Church Congregation and Shelby County Historical Commission August 2015