Many Memphians are aware that before The Children’s Museum of Memphis occupied 2525 Central, the building was home to a National Guard armory. However, the journey to CMOM has some interesting facts that may have been forgotten.
Plans for a National Guard armory date back to 1932. Construction of the armory was completed 10 years later, and in September 1943, the building was dedicated. The armory housed the 115th Field Artillery. Governor Prentice Cooper was in attendance at the dedication, and called the building “the finest armory in Tennessee” (The Commercial Appeal, 9/7/1943). Also present was Associate Justice Frank H. Gailor of the Supreme Court of Tennessee. Gailor presented the armory to the State Armory Commission, and it was accepted by Adj. General T.A. Frazier, commanding general of the Tennessee State Guard. Mayor Walter Chandler also spoke at the event. Interesting fact: Hollywood Street was previously called “Huguenot.”
By the late 1970s, the building had outlived its usefulness to the Tennessee National Guard. The city and county then engaged in a “squabble” over who would get the title of the armory (Roy Hamilton, Memphis Press-Scimitar, 4/16/77). The city of Memphis gained the title, and construction of a new armory in South Memphis began in the early 1980s. Several plans for the property were discussed; the main plan was for the property to be used for additional parking for the Liberty Bowl Memorial Stadium and the Mid-South Fairgrounds. However, the “possibility of renovating the old armory to handle the sale of state auto tags and city stickers has also been discussed” (Hamilton). Interesting fact: the mayor at the time was Wyeth Chandler, son of Walter Chandler, who was mayor of Memphis when the armory was dedicated.