Memphis History: 8 ‘Legendary’ Housing Projects In Memphis, TN

This is a list of eight of the most known and ‘legendary’ housing projects in Memphis, Tennessee including some known and unknown Memphis history and facts about them.

On our list of Memphis, TN’s ‘Legendary’ Housing Projects, we included some of the names of people who the projects were actually named after as well as some history on them.

Starting out our list, which is in no order, will be:

Walter J. Simmons

Walter J. Simmons projects was one of the last housing projects in Memphis to be closed down and removed from the landscape. The property, which was located at the corner of Knight Arnold and Lamar Ave, was once a home to many residents who lived in a housing project that was known throughout Memphis, TN. Residents, as of 2002, were being vacated which left the property vacant for many years. There are plans this Spring 2016 to finally begin constructing new property at the 34 acre landmark area.

Lemoyne Gardens

LeMoyne Gardens aka LMG was the housing project which sat directly across the street from LeMoyne–Owen College, the historically black college located in Memphis, Tennessee. LeMoyne Owen College was one of the first of its kind built for the education of Negroes in the country. Dr. Francis J. LeMoyne was known as an abolitionist who allegedly began fighting against slavery some 40 years before the Civil War.

LeMoyne Gardens was also the birthplace to some popular Memphis rap underground acts including LMG Mafia, G-Train, etc.


Dixie Homes

Dixie Homes is reportedly one of the first housing projects in the country built, which housed many black families in the beginning until its end.

Dixie Homes was also a popular location for the beginning of underground Memphis rap such as Dixie Homes Posse who worked with many underground rap acts including the likes of Kingpin Skinny Pimp and other popular acts.


Hurt Village

The Hurt Village housing project was built in the 1950s. The housing project was named after Dr. William H. Hurt, a white doctor and philanthropist. Although the housing community was predominantly african american in the end, many don’t know that when it was first built, it was built to reportedly attract more whites to the area. That plan was strayed following the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King in Memphis, according to a play written by Katori Hall entitled Hurt Village, that was inspired by the housing project.


Memphis rap artists such as Juicy J and Kingpin Skinny Pimp were even inspired to make songs about the housing project.


L.M. Graves Manor

Graves Manor is another housing project reportedly linked to a doctor named L. M. Graves and sits on another landmark area. The public housing project complex however became known by most for its nickname of PV a.k.a P---y Valley, for the promiscuity and reputed ‘fast’ women and ‘girl chasing’ men who frequented the housing project. As a matter of fact, most people have never even heard the name Graves Manor, only PV. Yes, it became known for its sexuality though there’s much more history behind the landmark area.

Cleaborn Homes

Cleaborn Homes housing project reportedly stood from 1955 when it was built on 27 acres up until 2011 and housed many Memphis residents, in the 1000’s reportedly in the 650 unit complex. The housing project was named after Korean War veteran Edward O. Cleaborn and ironically became known as the neighborhood 3rd Ward. Cleaborn Homes residents were asked to vacate in 2010, and just one year later the complex was demolished. In 2015, the rich history of the housing project along with the family were at a rededication ceremony for the redevelopment valued in the millions of the housing project.

Cleaborn Homes Memphis (1955-2011)


Foote Homes

Foote Homes housing project was built in 1940 and sits on 46 acres near downtown Memphis. Foote Homes is a legendary landmark named after black federal officer and lawmaker William H. Foote, and is the last remaining housing project in Memphis, TN.

Foote was killed in Yazoo City, Mississippi by a lynch mob who stormed the jail that Foote was in awaiting trial after he fatally shot three white men who planned to lynch and beat a black man named John James. After learning of the posse’s plan, Foote confronted the men with 10 other black men with him, fatally shooting three, and was injured himself with the butt of a gun. The posse, who reportedly called themselves “the whipping party,” chased down and killed John James. Foote and three others were later indicted on murder and while awaiting trial, they were killed by an angry mob who stormed the jailhouse. Before the incident, which occurred in 1883, Foote served as a constable, a town marshal and as a lawmaker who helped pass the Civil Rights Act of 1871 limiting the activities of the Ku Klux Klan. Foote, a sworn agent with the U.S. Treasury Department’s Bureau of Internal Revenue, was later honored at the National Law Enforcement Memorial in Judiciary Square and has since been named as the first African-American federal officer killed on duty.

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  1. i am really surprised and shocked to see that the North Memphis Project (Scutterfield and Oat Manor) were no t included here. I lived and grew up in those projects in the early 1970s. My grandmother moved into them when they were first built in what I believe to have been the 1950s. I would love to see someone else chime in on these projects. They were also called, (The 3 stories) they were three stories of apartments with ramps to walk up on one end and stairs on the other. There were also units behind them that were townhouses called, (Oats Manor) they have all been razed and Manassas High School sits in their place. It is huge part of my childhood memories of very fun times and family. Most of my family in the South lived here at one point in time.

  2. Hi, we are working on a public art project in the area where Foote Homes and Cleaborn homes were located. We are looking for people with a past (or future!) with the area. Your input is valued. So if you or someone you know has lived there or currently lives there, please reach out to me!

  3. There’s so many projects missing on this list like Hawkins mills goodwill village Lamar terrace just wondering what happened with them as far as make in the list because I lived in all three at some point in my life.

    • I’m sure there has to be some floating around. I have seen them on FB and other social media platforms. If I can find them and copy them I will try and put it here. I grew up in the 3 stories (Scutterfield) and Lamar Terrace in South Memphis as a very young child. These were some of the best years of my life. We lived in a 2 bedroom apartment on the second floor of the second building. 1129 Tully Street Apt 29. Those were the good ole days. Me my Mom and sister and Grandma and uncle lived in a 2 bedroom apt. I grew up in a great neighborhood with neighbors who became family to us. I hate that the “project” get such a bad rap these days. It wasn’t always like this but I am well over 50 years of age. As a child there were no drugs, guns, gangs etc in my neighborhood. Everyone took care of each other an watch out for each other.

  4. My dad and uncle grew up in the Cleaborn Homes. My told me how the girls from PV Valley got bussed to Fairley HS and they lived up to thot reputation back in the 70s.

  5. What about Fowler homes south Memphis right around from Gaston park? Anyone have any pictures? Would greatly appreciate the help!!

    • Yes I grew up in the fowler home projects there is facebook group called (if you were born and raised in the fowler homes stand up) you should be able to find a few pics in there

    • So very sorry to hear that Miss Carolyn Dockery I was born and raised in Hurtvillage from 1976 to closing time you have my prayers and condolences from the Beadle family

    • I’m sorry. I was kidnapped in hurt village almost lost my life. I moved to hurt village in 1991 I was 11. Sorry I don’t remember the story.

  6. My mom and uncles grew up in Walter Simmons, aunt and older brother where born there. My little brother and I went to the daycare center that was there around 93-94. Up until they tore it down, I always wanted to go thru that clubhouse one last time just to reminisce.

  7. My mom and youngest uncle were born in Brooklyn NY, my elder uncles and grandmother were from Tate County MS. When my grandmother moved them back down south in the early 70s, they moved to Walter Simmons and that’s where they grew up. My aunt and older brother where born and raised there also. For a brief period, my younger brother and I used to go to daycare there when my folks first moved us from Mallard Pond (now Ten Mile Creek) to the house where we would grow up in off Kirby Parkway. The daycare service was free but only for the residents of WJS (if I recall correctly) but one of the ladies in the program watched used to watch my mom and uncles when they were children so she managed to get us in while my folks got on their feet. This was early 90s, 93-94. After they got their finances together after getting the house, we ended going to a daycare center closer to our home. It was the first place I got my first girlfriend and my first kiss. Up until when they tore it down, I always wanted to go through that clubhouse or whatever it was one last time just to reminisce.

  8. Pimpthis Tenakey – so real and I love the courage to stand up and deliver the word of God. True disciples.. what a note to end it on.

  9. This is some great info behind Menphis’s housing projects history. Can you go into detail about the rest of Graves Manor’s history? Thanks!

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