Project Update (05/19/16)
We are currently in the process of filing for 401(c)3 status as a non-profit organization. This means that in the very near future, any contributions to this project will be tax exempt. We will keep you posted!
Our goal is to move the needle on this project every day. Forward progress is essential. Learn what we're doing on a daily and weekly basis and what you can do to help?
Keith and Janet Chism
May 2, 2014 - So You Are Curious About Asher Trace?
What is Asher Trace anyway? Well, right now it’s just an idea. It’s a dream. But it’s a dream we are very passionate about, and there is no doubt that Keith and I (and the others involved in this project) will bring this dream to life. The only thing that would prevent us from seeing this project through successfully is if the current owner of the property finally gets funding to turn it into condominiums, or if he sells it to someone else… before we are able to purchase it. We certainly hope this doesn’t happen because the current plans to turn it into condominiums would drastically alter the historic buildings and grounds.
A little history about the building…
I first discovered the Memphis Marine Hospital about 10 years ago. It’s an old ‘abandoned’ building, next door to the National Ornamental Metal Museum, on the banks of the Mississippi River, near downtown Memphis, Tennessee. The story of this building starts in the 1700’s when President John Adams established the Marine Hospital Service. The hospital first opened in 1884 to replace another one in Arkansas that was washed away when the Mississippi River changed course due to an earthquake in the 1870’s. There were originally six buildings at the current location, two wards, an executive building, the surgeon’s house, the nurses’ building, and a stable. The hospital treated Civil War soldiers, and it was also used as a research facility to try to find a cure for Yellow Fever. There are only two of the original buildings left. One is the nurses’ building which was relocated to the east side of the newer hospital building, and the other is the executive building which is now part of the Ornamental Metal Museum. Both of the original buildings are on the National Register of Historic Places.
In the 1930’s, the current three-story hospital building was built. After the hospital closed in 1965, the property was divided into two parts. In the 1970’s, the federal government leased the western part, which included 3.2 acres and three buildings, for one dollar per year (payable to the City of Memphis), to a group of people who wanted to establish the Ornamental Metal Museum. In 2004 the eastern part of the property, which includes the main hospital building, was sold by the federal government to a private investor. At that time, the western half, which is still home to the Ornamental Metal Museum, was deeded to the City of Memphis through the Heritage and Conservation Act.
The eastern part of the property is what we hope to purchase for the Asher Trace project. It includes the main hospital building, the original nurses’ building, a large maintenance building, and the remaining grounds, surrounded by a beautiful brick and wrought iron fence. The main hospital is a beautiful neo-classic style building. It has approximately 40,000 square feet and is constructed with thick concrete floors, a fully bricked exterior, a slate roof and a copper cupola. There are three main floors, plus a large unfinished attic and a large finished basement. Each floor consists of three wings (large symmetrical east and west wings and an additional large wing that extends to the north). The building includes a large kitchen (with a large walk-in cooler and a large walk-in freezer), as well as a dining area.
So here is the dream…
Asher Trace will be a new and exciting multi-use venue, which will include a boutique-style bed and breakfast inn, as well as a premier restaurant and event center. The inn will include 20 guest rooms, four luxury suites, four extended stay executive suites, a library with a business and media center, and a fitness center. It will also be home to the Asher Trace Fine Arts Center, with art galleries and working art studios, a graphic design studio, a culinary center, and a music conservatory.
Asher Trace will be unique because of its ability to bring together a cohesive blend of people, products and services that naturally promote and support each other. The bed and breakfast and restaurant will provide a captive audience for the art galleries. In return, the art galleries will provide a beautiful backdrop for our guests and a variety of gatherings and events. Furthermore, classes offered onsite by our local artists will offer exactly the types of activities that bed and breakfast guests look for when they search for a weekend getaway. Many visitors will no doubt purchase fine art, sculpture, and photography from our galleries, as well as items from our gift shop, such as cookbooks compiled by our chefs, audio and video records of local musicians, and logo apparel, coffee mugs, postcards and other novelty and souvenir items designed by our graphic artists. Our interns, working together with our resident artists to provide these products and services, will not only receive quality experience in their chosen field, but will also have a one of a kind opportunity to build impressive working portfolios.
Brides who choose Asher Trace as their wedding venue will enjoy a beautiful, one of a kind, historic setting, blended with modern day elegance both inside and out. As a full service venue, Asher Trace will offer prewedding planning, catering, music, specialty rentals, custom audio visual presentations, photography and videography services, bridesmaid luncheons, rehearsal dinners, guest lodging, and a romantic bridal suite with a beautiful view of sunsets over the Mississippi River.
In addition to drawing visitors to the Memphis area, our venue and activities will also draw local residents to Asher Trace for a host of seasonal events such as our News Years Gala, a romantic Valentine's Day Dinner, our Spring Fine Arts Show, an Easter Extravaganza (complete with an egg hunt for the children), a Summer Dance, our Fall Arts & Crafts Festival, a Halloween Bash (including a visit to our very own haunted morgue) as well as numerous holiday parties. We will also host a variety of corporate and civic events. Our beautiful and relaxing location, our personal service, and our many varied activities, will be sure to keep our guests coming back again and again.
The facility chosen for this project is the former Memphis Marine Hospital, on the banks of the Mississippi river, near downtown Memphis. The main building is a beautiful, neo-classic style building, consisting of over 40,000 square feet, spanning three main floors, plus a large finished basement and a large attic level. Each floor consists of three wings (large symmetrical east and west wings and an additional large wing that extends to the north). The building was constructed in the 1930's by the U.S. Government, with concrete floors (including the attic), a fully bricked exterior, and a slate roof. There are large open rooms at the ends of the east and west wings on each floor, perfect for the first floor art galleries, as well as the second and third floor loft style executive suites. The first floor also includes a large dining area, and a large commercial style kitchen with walk-in coolers and freezers. There are two other buildings on the property, one being the former nurse's dormitory, and the other being a large maintenance building (currently on the national historic register). The property joins with the National Ornamental Metal Museum which was opened on the west side of the original hospital grounds in the 1970's.
Our plan is for the main building to house the bed and breakfast, including the luxury suites and the extended stay executive suites. It will also include the restaurant, the art galleries, the music conservatory, a large library, a business and media center, and a workout facility. The former nurse's dormitory will house our graphic design studios. The large maintenance building will serve as our event center for large weddings and other special events, and will also house the culinary center with a large gallery style demonstration kitchen. You really have to visit the inside of this building to appreciate what an amazing venue it will be for special events!
This facility is located at the far south end of downtown Memphis, near where I-40 and I-55 come together. It is minutes from Beal Street, Graceland, the North Main Arts District, and many Memphis area restaurants, art museums and music venues.
It is sure to be an exciting place to visit!
If you have questions or want to learn more about this project, please contact us via the website.
June 2, 2014 - Metal Recycling Drive a Huge Success
The metal recycling drive that was held in June was a huge success. We received appliances, engines, transmissions, large metal tool boxes, mini-bikes, automobile bumpers, and so much more. The material is currently filling our shop and this coming weekend we will be sorting it and preparing it for the recycling center. Thanks so much for your support and look forward to new updates soon!
October 2, 2014 - An Evening at the Historic Memphis Marine Hospital
We had a really good time voluntering for the Friends of the Fort event at the historic Memphis Marine Hospital building. The event was hosted by City South Ventures, and several other groups, and included food, beer and wine, tours of the hospital building, and scary movies on the lawn after sundown (after all, it ws the weekend before Halloween). People were encouranged to bring their instruments for a jam session, and pets were welcome. All proceeds were donated to the restoration of the historic building, and it was a great event.