(The electric trolley line being built along National Avenue circa early 1900’s)
The Heights, like many neighborhoods in the South, began as a large cotton plantation. Ever wondered how the streets got their names? Well, the land was originally owned by the Pope Family and spanned nearly the entire neighborhood. After Pope’s death in 1865, the land was sub-divided around Holmes, Guernsey and Macon. Shelby County bought this land and built the county’s poor farm, work house and insane asylum. Today you can still see these small identical buildings, which are now private homes, along the northern sections of Pope Street and Lamphier. During the Civil War, soldiers for both the Union and the Confederacy were buried in National Cemetery.
In 1905, the Raleigh Street Car Line came into the neighborhood and ran straight down National Avenue along what today is a grassy median; another reminder of the Heights’ history. This new mode of transportation and the jobs that it created fostered new development in the Heights and turned it into a blue collar suburb of Memphis. Commercial and retail development sprung up along and laid the foundation for what Summer Avenue is today – the commercial and retail center of the neighborhood.
Another wealthy land owner at the time was Mr. A.B. Treadwell. In 1915, his family donated 3 acres of their land for the construction of Highland Heights Elementary and Junior High. Before the schools were built children attended class inside a small hotel on the corner of Summer and National, where Highland Heights Baptist Church is today. Once the high school was built in 1939, the name was changed to Treadwell to honor Mr. Treadwell’s donation. Treadwell High School graduated its first class in 1942.
(Original Treadwell Elementary and Middle circa 1930)
(Mr. A.B. Treadwell)