There won't be snakes, faith healers, or Elmer Gantry, but "Glory Hallelujah!" the soul of Victorian Village will be saved.
On Sunday, November 11th, stewards of Memphis history will join together for a tent-revival-style celebration of the long-awaited reopening of the Mallory-Neely House on Adams.
"We're setting up a huge white tent across from Mallory-Neely House in Victorian Village Park," said Scott Blake, executive director of Victorian Village, Inc. "The event is based on a spiritual revival, like the 19th-century tent revival, except it's going to be neighborhood leaders preaching, with choirs singing and bluegrass music."
Attendees will receive free admission to the Mallory-Neely House and half-price admission to the nearby Woodruff-Fontaine House, enjoy a catfish lunch, and hear gospel choirs, bluegrass musicians, and special guests testifying about the neighborhood's revival.
The Mallory-Neely House, along with the still-shuttered Magevney House, was closed in 2005 because of a city budget shortfall, but there were other reasons for the delay in reopening the historic home.
"It was closed for budgetary reasons, but then there were a number of Americans with Disabilities issues, such as restrooms and access, that needed to be addressed before they could reopen. There was a Department of Justice ruling that all city-owned facilities had to be up to ADA standards in order to reopen once they were closed," Blake said.
After seven years of maintaining the property and bringing the house into ADA compliance, the Pink Palace network of museums is finally ready to reopen one of its prized historic homes.
"Preserving the past is no easy matter. It costs money, and we're very thankful that the city of Memphis has provided the funding for the reopening and the maintaining of the house during the closure," said Wesley Creel, administrator of programs for the Pink Palace Family of Museums.
In the last month leading up to the reopening, the house has gotten a new slate roof. It also features a new access ramp on the back of the house, as well as new restrooms.
Visitors will once more have the opportunity to see what Blake calls an "incredible snapshot" of an extremely wealthy family at the end of the 19th century. Unlike some historic homes, the Mallory-Neely House includes many of the family's original belongings, some purchased at the Chicago and St. Louis World Fairs.
"Much of the furniture the visitor will see is from the occupants during the 1890s," Creel said. "It's very [rare] for the house to survive, and then for the furniture to survive intact."
"It's just incredible. You don't think about how ornate and decorated everything was, but it was the Golden Era, and to step into this house and see the sumptuousness of it is just breathtaking," Blake said. "We're really excited about getting folks back down there again."
Victorian Village has also been in the news lately in regard to the James Lee House, which the Memphis City Council has approved for transfer to a private developer for $1. Jose Velazquez and the development group of James Lee House, LLC have pledged to invest $2.1 million in renovating and repurposing the historic home for use as a bed-and-breakfast.
"Suddenly, Adams Avenue is coming alive," Blake said. "These houses don't just exist as architectural monuments. They're really the vehicle that tells the story of the people who lived there and the story of Memphis history."