The historic Lowenstein Mansion located in Victorian Village at 756 Jefferson Ave. was recently purchased by William “Bill” Townsend of Townsend Development. Built in 1890 for German-born immigrant Elias Lowenstein, it was originally used as a boarding house for women who worked. It has been listed on the National Register of Historic Places since 1979.
According to Bill Townsend, who bought the property in late 2021, the 130-year-old home needs a lot of TLC.
And while it needs a fresh coat of paint, new fixtures, and updates, he said, “it’s a great house, almost perfectly preserved inside and out.”
“I’m envisioning a boutique hotel with 15 rooms with several public spaces. It could be an opportunity to join forces with the Pillow-McIntyre home as well.”
[Read High Ground’s “This place in history: The top ten most unique houses in Memphis” to learn more about the Lowenstein Mansion and nine other interesting Memphis homes
Bill Townsend is an entrepreneur by nature and a preservationist at heart. He believes Memphis hasn’t done a good job of taking care of its neighborhoods and he hopes to change that.
“There’s great business value in Memphis, [but] development is about community, not just money,” he said.
Vice President of Real Estate and Development at the Memphis Medical District Collaborative Ben Schulman couldn’t agree more.
“In an area like ours," he said, "which includes the Edge and Victorian Village—it's imperative to respect and represent the history of the neighborhoods into any and all development. Utilizing the existing stock is a great way to do so."
“The preservation of the Lowenstein Mansion allows history to be broadcast and interacted with," said Schulman. "Mr. Townsend’s dedication to preserve and enhance this historic building is to be applauded."
Townsend grew up here, attended Rhodes College, and always felt a call to come back home after living around the world for many years. Besides being interested in old buildings, Townsend deals in food, antiques, and production. Not to mention College Rover, a new online platform that helps students and families find good matches for colleges.
“It’ll provide more foot traffic and way more tax dollars for the city,” he said.
Townsend is also in touch with Victorian Village CDC and says that they are happy about the property being in good hands.
“We need to look around and recognize that we have a city that is rich in history, culture, and people,” said Townsend. “Every city has issues but what makes Memphis unique is its authenticity and soul. We all need to be proud of our city while recognizing that it has strengths and weaknesses.”
As for what’s next for Bill, he says he has big plans for the Masonic Temple at Court and Fourth, and Luciann Theatre on Summer Avenue.
“I just love old buildings.”