Antiques Owner Discovers A Missing Piece Of Memphis History And Returns It

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(Memphis) Located on Adams Avenue, the three-story Mallory-Neely House stands as a time capsule of the late Victorian lifestyle of Memphis' wealthy cotton merchants in the 1800's.

Jennifer Tucker is the home manager for the Mallory-Neely House.

"The home itself, the collections, the furniture, the interior, the painted ceilings, woodwork and floors are all original to the Neely family," Tucker said.

But for years one original a piece of the mansion's history was missing. It was a section of wrought-iron fence that had been a part of the home's entrance.

"Sometime in the past, at least 10 years ago, it was stolen. One day the staff came to work and the fence, that section, had been stolen overnight," Tucker said.

The missing section of fence had made its way to South Front Antiques in downtown Memphis.

Eric Nielsen is the owner and an architecturologist.

"About five or six years ago, I ended up buying it from someone who'd bought it from someone who'd bought it from someone and I recognized the piece of iron," Nielsen said.

Realizing what was in his possession, Nielsen could have sold it, but didn't. He wanted it returned to its rightful owner and he did.

"I wanted to make sure it stayed in the city. So, I purchased it and decided to put it in storage until the day they were going to restore the house," Nielsen said.

The house has been restored and a couple of weeks ago, and to the surprise of the people who run the mansion, Nielsen showed up and offered them a gesture of kindness that was totally unexpected, the missing section of wrought-iron fence.

"It gives me a good feeling, too. It's one of the reasons I'm in this business because I can't stand to see this stuff sent to the dump, places being torn down and places being lost to history," Nielsen said.

"It certainly restores my faith in humankind. Not a lot of folks do the right thing nowadays. So, I'm very, very thankful to Mr. Nielsen," Tucker said.

She's thankful that another piece of history is back to help tell the story of the Mallory-Neely House.

"It kind of completes the front of the house, the whole streetscape, as well as along Adams Avenue here in Victorian Village," Tucker said.