Germantown is full of unique buildings and locations full of history.
- Baptist Church
- The Corner
- Duntreath Farms & Dr. J.A. Crisler
- Bobby Lanier Farm Park
- The Forgery Home
- Fort Germantown
- Harry’s Boxcar
- Harry’s Caboose
- Hopper’s Store
- Germantown Lodge, No. 95. F. & A.M.
- Germantown Regional History and Genealogy Center (GRHGC)
- The Gorman Residence
- John Gray House
- The Nurnberger’s House
- Oaklawn Garden
- South Central Bell Telephone Building
- Thornwood Clock Tower
- West Tennessee Iris Garden
- The Whitlow Home
Historical Houses Reflect City’s Past
By Mrs. Virginia Stivers, early 1980s
The Germantown Historic Preservation Committee has awarded over 50 homes in the city historical plaques designating that the houses were built before the turn of the century. The woman responsible for this is Mrs. Virginia Stivers (1911-1988), a lively, intelligent woman who takes a lot of pride in the heritage of Germantown.
“I remember when there were only six houses in Germanton,” Mrs. Stivers reminisced. “People who owned most of the property in Germantown lived in Mississippi. They came here and bought a large section of land where the center of the city and all the churches are now. They broke the land into lots and sold them. We got the railroad after that”, she said. “The railroad went along the high places. People who bought the property out here knew that that was going to happen. They made a lot of money.”
The money built several large, gracious homes, most of which are a part of the historic register. The oldest house n Germantown that is still standing is a large two-story yellow house that now sells antiques. The Kenneth Whitlow family resides in it at 7642 Old Poplar Pike, where you turn to go to the high school. The back of the house is made of logs.
Joe Woodward and his family own a historic home which used to be the Boyd Arthur, Sr. residence. The house, at 7440 Old Poplar Pike, was built in 1837, and in old deeds is referred to as “the old Shephard Homeplace”. Another fascinating house belongs to Mrs. and Mrs. Tom Williams, located across the street from Harry Cloyes’ Oaklawn Gardens. The house is over 100 years old and used to be a schoolhouse.
Dr. Yancey, whose father was also a doctor, comes from one of the first families in Germantown. Their house is next to the Checkerberry Shop and has a historic marker. Are any of the houses haunted? “Well, Dr. Yancey used to have some big tales to tell”, recalled Mrs. Stivers. “He knew everybody in this neck of the woods and could tell you everything they had ever done.”
Mrs. Stivers’s own house is graced with a historic marker. She and her late husband John moved to Germantown in 1948, when he was offered a place in a law firm in Memphis. Mrs. Stivers is also a lawyer, as is their daughter. The house is 98 years old, and the Stivers are the second family to own it. “We wanted a home in the country,” said Mrs. Stivers, “and the people were so thoughtful out here. You knew everybody then. There weren’t enough people that you could forget. It was being at home.”
Mrs. Stivers, along with Bess Barry’s help, researched all the old houses at the Court House, looking up when the homes were built and who built them. She designed the circular historical register plaque, which depicts a horse and an old house. It was her single-handed effort that has preserved Germantown’s old homes for future generations.
The first hotel in Germantown is now the house where Bess Barry lives. The two-story white house used to be made of logs and faced a ridge. There wasn’t a railroad track then. There was nothing around. A man owned it and took people in, fed them, and let them sleep upstairs by a big fireplace. That was our first hotel”, remembered Mrs. Stivers.
“When I look back on it, I think how lucky I was to live in Germantown during those years, “she sighed.
Germantown Historical Preservation Association Board
Houses Built Before the Turn-of-the-Century
The Barry Home, 2246 Germantown Road South, (Note Marker to Right of Doorway)
John L. Coopwood, Former Owners of the Barry House
Jack Barry, Former Owners of the Barry House
Shepherd-Arthur House, 7440 Old Poplar Pike, 1849