Upper School Students Document Memphis History

For more than eight years, St. Mary’s students have chronicled the restoration of local historic buildings for the Legacy Project. A brainchild of Upper School Art History Teacher Nancy Prillaman, the project's goal is to document the restoration of neglected sites in Memphis through photos and notes. After discussions with a friend, Prillaman was inspired to capture digital images of historic buildings to ensure that the images and records of the transformations would not be lost to time.

The Legacy Project launched in October 2014 and is led by Prillaman, History Teacher Dalton Lyon, and Art & Photography Teacher Andrea Fletcher. The first project was documenting the abandoned Sears warehouse as it was developed into the multi-use complex Crosstown Concourse. Students photographed the building before, during, and after construction to create a timeline of the development.

Students have also documented the transformation of the Tennessee Brewery, the ongoing restoration of the historic Clayborn Temple, and the Mid-South Coliseum. Not only are the students witnessing historical transformations as they happen, but they are also diving into Memphis' history, learning about the buildings and their importance to the city.

“Most of the girls would never have gone to the Tennessee Brewery before or after it was renovated. Many didn't know much about the rich histories of the Coliseum and Clayborn Temple,” said Prillaman. “I hope the girls will have a broader and deeper knowledge and appreciation of Memphis and our history,” she added.

This impressive collection of photographs serves as a public resource and learning tool now and in the future.

Click below to view the Legacy Project.

Legacy Project

  • Upper School

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