Saturday, February 19, 2011

Where Was the Dempsey Motor Hotel in Memphis?

Posted By on Sat, Feb 19, 2011 at 7:48 PM

DempseyMotorHotel1.png
Lately, it seems I've been posting more questions than answers on this blog. And that's just the way I like it. Let somebody else go to the trouble of solving just some of the countless mysteries that readers send me each and every day. For example:

Somebody on eBay is selling a nice old matchbook cover for an establishment called the Dempsey Motor Hotel, and the description says the place is (or was) supposedly in downtown Memphis. Well, that's news to me. I've never heard of the joint. But you'll see that it is a rather large, modern-looking establishment, with convention facilities capable of handling groups from 10 to 1,000. It has "two fine restaurants, a tavern, and a tap room," and it's "located with a block of seven state highways." And it also has FREE attached inside parking.

All this is very interesting, but it would have been really helpful if they had actually listed the address of the hotel. Especially since (according to the matchbook) it has a "prestige" address.

The seller says the hotel name is short for Jack Dempsey, the world-famous heavyweight boxer, but if he ever had any connection with Memphis, nobody has ever told me about it. I think the Dempsey name just comes from something else, but I'm not sure what, exactly.

Because I'm not entirely sure this place ever existed. The illustration seems to show the building on South Main Street that is, was, and will forever be known as the Chisca Hotel. In the 1960s, the name (and hotel) was expanded to the snazzier-sounding Chisca Plaza Motor Lodge, and the general description on the matchbooks certainly describes the Chisca. But as far as I know (which isn't really very far these days), the place was never called the Dempsey.

Or was it? Does anybody know something about this place that I don't?

If you'd like to see the original eBay listing, and perhaps add this odd item to your collection, go here:

In the meantime, I'll look through old city directories and see if I can track down this establishment.

DemseyMotelHotel2.png

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