Orange Mound History
According to many, Orange Mound was the first residential area in the south open to blacks after the Civil War. The land on which Orange Mound was built was previously the Deaderick Family plantation. But when it was sold to an E.E. Meacham, he subdivided the land into 25 foot plots and sold the properties to the blacks that had begun migrating to Memphis from Mississippi, Arkansas and East Tennessee. These families built their own homes and created a community for themselves.
Today the homes in Orange Mound serve as one of the clearest reminders of the past. Many Orange Mound residents still live in the same "shotgun" style houses that were built during those early years. The homes are called "shotguns" because a person can look through the front doorway and see directly through to the back door, like looking through the barrel of a gun.
For those pioneering Orange Mound residents, physical conditions were harsh; houses could barely withstand the storms and there were no paved or graveled streets. During that time, everyone had outhouses and used wells to get their water. But people turned to each other and held on tightly to their faith in God, to help them see things through.
The original boundaries of the Orange Mound community were Cable Avenue to the north, Trezevant Avenue to the west (presentday Airways Boulevard), Park Avenue to the south and Marechalneil Avenue to the east. Because of segregation, Blacks were restricted from almost every facet of the white society that surrounded their community. Thus residents relied heavily on the services that they could provide to each other.
The creation of Orange Mound as a relatively self contained community was a huge source of pride for its residents who were a rich blend of professionals (doctors, lawyers, educators), businessmen as well as laborers. Some of the earliest churches in the community, Mt. Moriah (1879), Mt. Pisgah (1879), and Beulah Baptist Church (1917), helped to provide social services. The community also had a number of social organizations, fraternities, clubs and neighborhood, schools. Eventually the boundaries of Orange Mound began to expand. As more and more blacks moved into the area, more and more whites moved out of their homes on the surrounding streets. Today, although not accepted by all residents, the boundaries of Orange Mound are Park Avenue to the south, Goodwyn to the east, Spottswood and Southern Railroad to the north, and Airways Boulevard to the west.
During the 60s and 70s, the community experienced a shift in its population. Integration opened doors that had once been closed. Blacks now had access to more housing, employment, and educational opportunities. A community that could boast that generations had stayed in the family home or even on the same street was slowly watching younger generations move away to other communities or cities. This trend still remains to be true to a large extent, but Orange Mound has persevered. Much of the founder's values and moral character live on through Orange Mound's community based organizations, institutions, churches and schools.
The neighborhood has approximately 16 neighborhood watch/improvement block clubs, one communitybased credit union, over 40 churches, numerous day cares, three neighborhood schools and two nationally funded nonprofit redevelopment organizations the Orange Mound Collaborative and the Orange Mound Development Corporation.
The neighborhood has approximately 16 neighborhood watch/improvement block clubs, one community based credit union, over 40 churches, numerous day cares, three neighborhood schools and two nationally funded nonprofit redevelopment organizations the Orange Mound Collaborative and the Orange Mound Development Corporation. Add to that "mix" ... the Orange Mound Community Parade Committee which is responsible for keeping Orange Mound with fresh activities/projects that have continued to make Orange Mound a "showcase" community ... not just for Memphis but for citizens and tourists alike!
The one aspect of this community that affirms just how strong of a foundation those early settlers built over a century ago, is that enduring spirit of concern that residents have maintained and readily show to one another today.