Ever toured "Film Row" in Memphis? It's an unassuming stretch of South Second Street where Hollywood film companies had distribution centers and where the Memphis censors' screening room was located. One of these warehouse buildings from the 1930s has been turned into a residence.
The facade is a sleeper. It's not overdone or over-lighted — just some cool glass-block, an elegant pair of wrought-iron doors, and a good paint job, like a character actor with class.
A spacious entry with a large floor-to-ceiling sculptural niche is accented by an art deco light fixture. Around the corner is a great room, measuring 40 by 75 feet, making most any other room called "great" pale by comparison.
Ceilings vault to 14 feet. Original skylights are upstaged in the evening by theatrical lighting programmed for eight different "scenes." Brick walls are exposed and accompanied by stained concrete floors and rafters open to the roof decking. There is room for several seating groupings, a grand piano, a 15-foot long marble bar, a dining table for 12 or so, and enough art for a small museum.
The kitchen adjoins this space but is under a 12-by-20-foot light monitor that rises 20 feet above the floor with windows on four sides. WOW is rather an understatement. Granite counters abut commercial ovens complete with an eye-level salamander. The noisy range hood fan and refrigerator compressor are both located remotely on the roof, and the walk-in pantry is bigger than many kitchens.
All of this was completed in 2005 by the current owner, with the aid of local architect Bill Nixon. The layout does an excellent job separating the three bedrooms with en-suite baths into secluded areas of this 7,800-square-foot building. Guests concerned about being a bother can claim the bedroom with its own front door, in case they need to make a discreet exit. Likewise, there is a double office right off the front entry, which facilitates business meetings without having to bring clients into the living area.
The master bedroom occupies a quiet rear corner. An original skylight was relocated here from the area that is now the garage. Custom-built 12-foot-tall French doors open to a narrow, fenced rear yard. The bath has double vanities, a spa tub, and a curbless, walk-in shower. There's even a urinal. The real scene stealer is the pair of double-height walk-in closets outfitted to hold enough clothes for Liberace and Zsa Zsa Gabor.
The four-car garage has an overscaled entry off South Second. The tall ceilings allow for a full-storage mezzanine above the parking spaces. Permanent stairs lead up to the mezzanine and to the roof, which has been reinforced to hold a spacious deck.
The library/media room is tucked into the other rear corner. A tall wall of bookcases has a rolling library ladder to heighten the drama. A second set of tall French doors also opens to the rear yard. A pool table is cast in a supporting role to one of the coolest 1930s metal doors, which originally protected feature films. It now opens to the wine cellar and lets you know the main attraction here is the incorporation of many 1930s original fixtures into this sumptuous downtown loft.
406 S. Second Street
Approximately 6,700 square feet,
not including garage
3 bedrooms, 3 1/2 baths; $750,000
Realtor: Hobson Co., 761-1622
Agents: Faith Kaye, 682-2588;
Virginia Sharp, 685-5334