The Gayoso-Peabody District is characterized by architectural diversity and eclecticism. In fact, the evolution of commercial architecture in the Mid South region (1880-1927) can be traced within the area. Architectural styles represented by one or more buildings or variously combined in one structure include Victorian Italianate, Cast iron, Richardsonian Romanesque, Queen Anne, Commercial, Sullivanesque, Italian Renaissance Revival, and Art Deco- Modernistic. Cast iron and terra-cotta are used extensively throughout the area – cast iron for entire facades, first and second floor columns, window moldings, attic vents grilles, fire escapes and ornamental relief on upper level spandrels; terra-cotta for window moldings and upper level spandrel decoration. The extensive use of cast iron and terra-cotta materials throughout the five block area unifies this otherwise architecturally diverse district.
The original use and character of the Gayoso Peabody District was determined by Cotton Row, the cotton brokerage center of the Mid-South Region. The two hotels, for which the district is named, the Hotel Gayoso (1842) and the Hotel Peabody (1869), were acknowledged as the finest not only in Memphis, but the entire Mid-South. The older and more established Hotel Gayoso was the center of the city and regional social like until the Hotel Peabody was rebuilt on it s present site in 1924. The Hotel Peabody was known to generations of travelers and the local residents as “the South’s Finest – One of America’s Best”.
Main and Second Street between Monroe and Union were recognized as the Mid-South’s wholesale-retain center in the 1880’s – 1890’s. The area became more retail oriented by 1910, although Second Street retained its original function and character. In 1927, the rooming houses and brothels could still be found on Gayoso Street and along the district’s southern fringe, and the livery stables on the northeastern periphery. The District was adversely affected by the Great Depression of 1929, and the area was never again to regain its pre-depression status. The three decades following WWII saw the slow but steady decline of the downtown. In 1976, Main Street was closed to auto traffic and converted to a pedestrian mall with trolley use. As for the brothels, rooming houses and livery stables - they are no longer to be found although some of their buildings remain.
Designed by Linx Consulting.