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Historic Memphis Mansion Under Contract

Historic Memphis Mansion Under Contract

Annesdale Mansion
Annesdale Mansion ~ 1325 Lamar Avenue, Memphis

Built in 1850, the Annesdale Mansion has a grand parlor, library, sunroom, dining room, and full kitchen, as well as crystal chandeliers, hand-painted ceilings, 11 fireplaces, walnut paneling, and a marble entryway.

The Italianate villa sits on a sprawling, seven-acre lot. And since 2011 — when it was purchased and restored by Ken Robinson — it has served as a popular, premium location for weddings, receptions, and rehearsal dinners.

So, needless to say, when Leslie Murphy saw it listed for sale online in April 2020, she found it stunning, yet “terribly out of reach” — and not a suitable new headquarters for her company, Memphis-based Murphy Maude Interiors (MMI).

“It did not occur to me, at the time, that its use could be converted to meet our business needs,” she said.

In June 2021, however, the mansion was still for sale, and Murphy Maude Interiors’ search for a new headquarters had become more serious. At the behest of her realtor, Crye-Leike’s Joanna Fuhrman, Murphy reconsidered, visiting the property in person.

And she was blown away by what she saw.

“I was pretty awestruck and enamored by the whole thing,” she said. “It's an amazing gem, tucked away. I just fell in love. I wanted to preserve it and saw an immediate opportunity for it to be the next chapter of Murphy Maude.”

Murphy decided to pursue ownership of the property, located at 1325 Lamar Ave. And these days, her business — an interior architecture and design firm focused on residential and commercial environments — is close to acquiring it and making the mansion its new headquarters. MMI just needs to clear a few hurdles.

One requires approval from the local government. Murphy has filed an application with the Memphis and Shelby County Office of Planning and Development, in an effort to expand the allowed usage of the property. That move will allow her company to place its offices there and have some of Annesdale’s common areas be used as showrooms for its line of products.

The other hurdle is funding. MMI has applied for a loan from the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA), and is waiting to hear back, though Murphy asserted that “all signs are looking good.” With an approval, the loan will be pooled together with MMI’s own funds, enough to buy the property.

A deed with the Shelby County Register of Deeds shows that Robinson paid $550,000 for the property in 2011. But he did extensive work on the property, drastically bolstering its value; and the most recent published asking price was $4.5 million, according to Eric Fuhrman, who is the other Crye-Leike broker involved in the transaction, along with his wife Joanna.

But why does MMI want to move its headquarters?

Right now, the company operates out of warehouse space at 94 Cumberland Street, which, Murphy said, has been ideal from a cost perspective. And MMI intends to keep some of the space and continue operating part of its business from there.

But the location isn’t suitable for everything. The business has its own line of products, called Mable: Murphy Maude Originals, which offers materials like wallpapers, upholstery, fabric, and murals.

And when MMI wants to showcase its offerings for clients, a warehouse is far from the best location — hence Murphy’s plans for a showroom in the Annesdale Mansion.

MMI has also grown significantly since she started it out of a home office six years ago. These days, it has 15 staffers — 11 full-time and 4 part-time — and averages about 30 clients a year.

“Basically everything I've ever made in the business, I’ve reinvested back into the business,” Murphy said.

Beyond the operations of MMI, Murphy plans for Annesdale to continue holding events, and she wants the space to be supportive of the arts. An example would be having a rotating gallery.

“I’ve always had a heart for the arts,” she said. “For me, the Annesdale opportunity represents a place where there could be fundraisers for the arts, or people who come together around the table to discuss big issues around the arts — hosting like-minded individuals to move the mark for the arts.”

What’s not in the plans, however, is further development on the property — or selling it off.

“We’re not looking to sell this off to a developer, that’s not in my plan,” she said. “This is a lifelong investment I’m trying to make … that has staying power and meaning not only for my group of creative individuals, but also hopefully Memphis as well."

By John Klyce – Reporter, Memphis Business JournalAug 16, 2021 Updated Aug 23, 2021, 12:20pm CDT