MEMPHIS, TN (WMC) - New life could be on the horizon for the historic, blighted Melrose High School building in Orange Mound.
It’s a property those living nearby have begged for decades to save.
Nothing is set, but the city is going to open up the building to let developers see inside much in the same way it did with Crosstown Concourse before its renewal.
Hazell Glover Jones never left her home in Orange Mound--a community with history and the first area in the country created exclusively for African-Americans. But Jones said when the old Melrose High School--her alma mater--closed in the late 70s, the area started its decline.
“Once you close your school, you lose your community,” she said.
The structure on Dallas Street is on the National Register of Historic Places, but it’s in disrepair and has sat empty for nearly 40 years.
It’s currently gated to keep trouble out, but the city will soon unlock it to let hope in.
“You open it up, show the possibility, and you could spark a fire that takes off and that’s what we’re looking at,” Mayor Jim Strickland said.
Strickland revealed Thursday in a tweet that the city will show the building off to developers in late October.
Strickland likens the process to that which yielded the Tennessee Brewery rebirth and Crosstown Concourse. He cautions private dollars will be needed.
“There’s a lot of emotional ties to the old Melrose High School. It’d be great if we could save it and find a productive use,” he said.
For Jones, just the hope alone is reason enough to celebrate.
“I’m happy, happy, happy,” she said. “We’re going to try to get this community back because I haven’t moved. I’ve been here 73 years. I’m very proud of my community and I want it to be rebuilt.”
The mayor said the “temporary activation” of Melrose will be October 26-28.