Successful carriage maker Amos Woodruff began construction on his Memphis home in 1870, designing the property in French Victorian style with a mansard roof and cypress woodwork and flooring. A year later, the mansion hosted the wedding of Amos's daughter, Mollie, marking the first public event and first of countless weddings to be held on the property. Cotton factor Noland Fontaine owned the dwelling after Amos; following the death of Noland and his wife, the home became an art school and then a vacant building until the Association for the Preservation of Tennessee Antiquities acquired the space in 1961.
Nestled among magnolia trees, the restored mansion still shelters handwritten autographs and memories of the craftsmen who helped erect the building. Just as it did for Mollie Woodruff, the property also continues to host weddings and special events with a front lawn that accommodates up to 250 visitors. A collection of more than 1,000 pieces of Victorian-era fashion, such as wedding gowns, undergarments, overgarments, and stiletto horseshoes, can be found in the home. The clothing display changes several times throughout the year along with the museum's rotating exhibitions.
The Fire Museum of Memphis uses a combination of interactive exhibits, artifacts, restorations, and multimedia to illustrate Memphis's history of fire damage and to honor those who dedicate their lives to fighting fires. Built inside the refurbished Fire Engine House No. 1, the museum itself is a rich piece of history. The Memorial Wall's larger-than-life sculptures are a riveting tribute to the heroes who fell in the line of duty, and a collection of prints and portraits honors the 12 brave men who made up the first class of African-American firefighters in 1955. Alongside a bevy of antiques from past eras of fire fighting, the horse-drawn E.H. Crump Steamer, named after the late mayor, will evoke a simpler time—before motor-technologies subjugated our equestrian allies to achieving glory primarily as silly-named racing horses.
A multitude of hands-on, eye-opening museum exhibits outline more than 10,000 years of the Mississippi's majesty, providing a comprehensive history of the heartland's life-giving artery. Learn how the mighty water mass shaped the foundation of countless civilizations through colorful displays and more than 5,000 artifacts, from the pottery, tools, and maps of early native settlers to the engines, paddle wheels, and regalia of ancient steamboat tribes, found in the River Room. Temporary exhibits include Water and Money – The Currency of Civilizations, which traces the river's historical parallels to valley cultures in Carthage, Rome, and Constantinople through collections of rare coins, diagrams of water and resource management, and bouts of gladiatorial mud wrestling. Access to the Swiss-constructed monorail is included in your Groupon, providing scenic views of the river as it reflects the skyline of downtown Memphis.