Hidden Memphis feature for The Commercial Appeal
Oct. 29, 2012
The black-and-white images decorating the interior of Phillips Cottage in Elmwood Cemetery have many stories to tell, but the plaster walls of the cottage have even more — stories of grieving loved ones remembering their dead, of a fever that spread and threatened to eradicate the population of Memphis, of generals, mayors and the men and women whose final journey, whether on horse-drawn carriage or by automobile, passed by its front door.
Phillips Cottage was built in 1866, 14 years after the founding of the cemetery, as a one-room structure for Samuel Phillips to conduct the business of overseeing funeral arrangements and tending to the grounds. Despite its utilitarian use, the cottage was designed in the ornate Victorian Gothic Carpenter style, popular at the time with its gingerbread trim and churchlike windows. A steeple-shaped finial decorates the northern peak of the roof.
Kimberly McCollum, executive director of Elmwood Cemetery, and Michael Davis, superintendent of Elmwood, stand outside of Phillips Cottage, which was built at Elmwood in 1866 to be used as an office at the cemetery.
Phillips Cottage has been used consistently since its construction, but is much more than office space today. It is a living, working museum with records and artifacts dating back to the 19th century.
The small staff welcomes the public to peruse and take a trip back to that Victorian era when the cemetery was outside the city limits and only the first of its 75,000 bodies were interred … (read more)