Nineteenth Century Club Avoids Wrecking Ball For Now

The battle to save the historic Nineteenth Century Club from demolition heated up Thursday morning.

A judge issued a temporary restraining order to stop owners from knocking it down.

“The fight’s not over yet,” Joe Hagan, Memphis Heritage board president, said.

Hagan and preservationists say they believe greed is behind the destruction of the 106-year-old building.

“It’s the same old same old, fly under the radar, break as many rules as you can, stick the money in your back pocket then say, oops I’m sorry,” Hagan said.

His fight is aided by four members of the Nineteenth Century Club, who filed a a lawsuit claiming the sale was improper.

Their attorney, Steve Mulroy, said the sale and destruction moved so fast the members had to act to keep the building standing.

“The restraining order we obtained today from the court basically preserves the status quo for ten days so we can have a full hearing on the matter,” Mulroy said.

After a demolition permit was issued Tuesday, crews cut down a tree, which violated local codes requiring tree removal applications.

Mulroy said the club members want the sale voided and the building sold to someone who won’t tear it down.

“We’re open to any result that preserves this historic treasure,” he said.

Hagan said the destruction of the building would be just one more blow in the preservation of the city’s historic landmarks.

Memphis Heritage also released a statement saying it is “very pleased that the court felt that this structure is significant enough to warrant such action…(and it) supports the plaintiffs in this case and their decision to move forward on questioning the legality of the sale of the property.”

A hearing in chancery court hasn’t been set for the lawsuit.

The chancelllor could decide to dismiss the case and lift the restraining order, or keep it in place and allow the lawsuit to proceed.

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