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.
Hoofing it around Downtown, Sunset Walking Tours whisk groups on foot around the historic city, all while led by a knowledgable and enthusiastic tour guide. For two hours, visitors walk the streets past buildings and landmarks rich with history. They stroll down the legendary Beale Street, stopping at tributes to Elvis Presley, and end up at Confederate Park, where guests can watch the sunset beyond the banks of the Mississippi River.
Handicap Accessible: No
Staff Size: 2?10 people
Parking: Parking lot
Most popular offering: Two Hour Downtown Historical Segway Tour
Pro Tip: The Segway is incredibly easy and fun to ride!
What sets your business apart from your competition?
We are the #1 ranked tour company on TripAdvisor.com and the only tour company that is based in the world famous Peabody Hotel. We are environmentally friendly, and the only tour in the city of Memphis that can ride down the center of Beale Street as well as riding on various streets and sidewalks. Segway of Memphis Tours is the most adventurous and interactive tour available in Memphis.
What was the inspiration for starting this business?
We love Segways and we love Memphis history. That was the inspiration for starting this tour company.
Is there anything else you want to add that we didn't cover?
As far as we know, we are the only Segway tour company in the United States that issues each rider a complimentary Segway ID card with the rider's picture on it. Part of the fun of riding a Segway is showing people that you did it, right?
What is the best reaction you?ve ever gotten from a customer?
On more than one occasion, at the end of a tour, guests have said "This was the most fun that I have had in years."
What?s your favorite part about your job?
Besides teaching thousands of first time riders how to effortlessly operate a revolutionary battery powered machine, our favorite element of our job is the people that we take out on tour. It's all about the people, and without our riders, we wouldn't be in business.
In the pre-computer age, wagons and trucks loaded with cotton samples once flooded Front Street, where cotton traders graded, bought, sold, and shipped their wares on the floor of the private Memphis Cotton Exchange. Formerly off-limits to everyone but members and their guests, the restored 3,000-square-foot room—adorned with ornate architectural flourishes from 1924 and a 30-foot ceiling—opened to the public as The Cotton Museum in 2006. Through documentary films and exhibits, the institution traces the history of the exchange and the impact of cotton on culture and society. The museum's oral-history project collects testimonials from merchants, mill workers, and sharecroppers, and its hall of fame honors innovative industry leaders who turned to cotton after unsuccessful attempts at lassoing clouds. Outside, a 30-minute self-guided walking tour highlights nine historical stops around Front Street, whereas the Exploration Hall's interactive indoor exhibit, The Changing World of Cotton, describes industry advances in mechanization and environmental sustainability.