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“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
Memphis in Shelby County, Tennessee — The American South (East South Central)
 

The Overton Park Shell/The Levitt Shell At Overton Park

 
 
The Overton Park Shell/The Levitt Shell At Overton Park Marker image. Click for full size.
By Steve Masler, October 26, 2016
1. The Overton Park Shell/The Levitt Shell At Overton Park Marker
Inscription.
The Overton Park Shell
The Works Progress Administration and City of Memphis built the Overton park Shell in 1936 for $11,935. Of 27 WPA Shells built nationwide, this is one of the few remaining. However, several time city officials slated it for demolition. The Shell has hosted performers from across Memphis neighborhoods, musicians from all of our major recording studios, and stars from around the world. On July 30, 1954, Elvis Presley launched his performing career from this stage. During the civil rights era, blues artists and fans ignored a culture of segregation together for the Memphis Country Blues Festivals (1966-1969), demonstrating music's unifying power. Most concerts at this civic facility have been free and the programming has been as diverse as the city's residents.

The Levitt Shell at Overton Park
At its dedication, the Overton Park Shell pledged itself "to the future of music in Memphis." Musical styles have ranged from blues to opera, symphonies to Chickasaw chants, religious services, theater, and dance. First, the Memphis Open Air Theatre programmed light opera and musicals with orchestra (1938-1951). Then the local musicians union stage "Music Under the Stars" (1947-1977). Yet in 1985 civic budgetary restraints left the shell to deteriorate, and it was scheduled to be razed for

The Overton Park Shell/The Levitt Shell At Overton Park Marker image. Click for full size.
By Steve Masler, October 26, 2016
2. The Overton Park Shell/The Levitt Shell At Overton Park Marker
a parking lot. Memphians responded, forming Save Our Shell, Inc. to oversee events and upkeep (1985-2003). Since 2008, Friends of the Levitt Foundation have given Memphis 50 free performances annually. The founding pledge remains a guiding principle today.
 
Erected 2016 by Friends of the Levitt Shell and the Shelby County Historical Commission.
 
Location. 35° 8.708′ N, 89° 59.713′ W. Marker is in Memphis, Tennessee, in Shelby County. Marker is on Museum Drive 0 miles east of Morrie Moss, on the right when traveling west. Touch for map. Located in Overton Park, north of the Memphis Brooks Museum of Art. Marker is at or near this postal address: 1924 Poplar Avenue, Memphis TN 38104, United States of America.
 
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Memphis Belle (approx. 0.2 miles away); Rhodes College (approx. half a mile away); Griffin House (approx. 0.6 miles away); Hutchison School (approx. 0.7 miles away); Tennessee Williams Play (approx. mile away); Bettis Family Cemetery (approx. mile away); Overton Park (approx. mile away); First Baptist Church (approx. 0.8 miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Memphis.
 
Also see . . .
1. The Levitt Shell. (Submitted on October 27, 2016, by Steve Masler of Memphis, Tennessee.)
2. Musicians at Levitt Shell. From Wikimedia Commons, the free media repository (Submitted on October 27, 2016, by Steve Masler of Memphis, Tennessee.) 

3. Dedication of The Orchestra Shell--Program. (Submitted on October 29, 2016, by Steve Masler of Memphis, Tennessee.)
 
Additional keywords. WPA
 
Categories. Arts, Letters, MusicEntertainment
 
 
Credits. This page was last revised on October 30, 2016. This page originally submitted on October 27, 2016, by Steve Masler of Memphis, Tennessee. This page has been viewed 179 times since then and 36 times this year. Photos:   1, 2. submitted on October 27, 2016, by Steve Masler of Memphis, Tennessee. • Bill Pfingsten was the editor who published this page.
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