495 Tennessee Street
The Tennessee Brewery will be saved. A local businessman and school board member has taken up the cause of the massive, decaying Romanesque structure and is transforming it into a residential building that will join the efforts to remake this specific part of town into an arts district.
In April of last year, when last I wrote about this story, plans were underway to hold a beer garden in the old building under the name “Tennessee Brewery Untapped.” This effort was successful in arousing local interest in the structure. The owner at that time had indicated that he would likely demolish the building by the end of the summer unless a buyer came forward. “If not for Untapped, I don’t think people would have focused on the building,” said Billy Orgel, the building’s new owner.
Orgel, CEO of cell phone tower developer, Tower Ventures and also a Shelby County School Board member, led a small group of investors in purchasing the building. Plans have been made to turn the building into lofts with a small amount of possible commercial space on the ground floor. The new owner has said that project will require “a leap of faith by a lot of people.”
There’s no word on what the brewery’s spirits may think of this, though the building’s new owner doesn’t believe there may be anything there. After being approached by a production company wishing to produce something about the building’s haunted history for the Discovery Channel, Orgel responded, “we said we are not interested. We’re not really sure if anything ever even happened in there.” Perhaps the spirits are just enjoying a cold one before resuming their regular haunting activity.
Maki, Amos. “Brewery developer calls for ‘leap of faith.” Memphis Daily
News. 14 January 2015.
Poe, Ryan. “Developer unveils details about Tennessee Brewery’s future.”
Memphis Business Journal. 3 October 2014.
Sells, Toby. “Tennessee Brewery plans unveiled.” Memphis Flyer. 13