Cotton States Archive
"I've Been to Memphis!"
And, no, we're not talking about the Lyle Lovett song. I purchased this post card because the design of the high-rise building was interesting, and I was a bit shocked that Memphis had a number of buildings of this size at the beginning of the twentieth century. The handwritten note on the card made it even more fascinating.

Located at 9 North 2nd Street, this impressive structure was designed by Neander Montgomery Woods, Jr. in the Beaux-Arts style. The son of a Presbyterian minister, Woods was born in Norfolk, Virginia, on May 11, 1876. At age 24, he found employment with the Memphis-based architectural firm of B. C. Alsup and Company, and was an Alsup partner by 1903. In 1906, he established his own company. Construction for the Exchange Building ended in 1910, just one year prior to the mailing of this post card and two years before Woods and his family relocated to New York. At 264 feet in height with 19 floors, the building eluded the wrecking ball despite remaining vacant for a 15-year period. In 1979, it was added to the National Register of Historic Places. Following the completion of extensive renovations and its conversion to residential use in 1996, the downtown Memphis landmark now offers moderate-income apartments.

Postmarked on February 26, 1911, this post card was mailed to Mr. B. S. Jordan, 1922 West 10th Street, Little Rock, Arkansas. The message reads:

"How is everything with you? I'm getting along all right. This is certainly a "live " town. I haven't seen a street that isn't paved and there are automobiles here by the hundreds. I noticed one this a.m. that had a tag number 42 hundred & something. There are lots of buildings here as large as the one on this card. How are you getting along at the shop? Will write a letter soon. Fred"

In the twenty-first century, Little Rock is certainly no one-horse town, but apparently it was quite laid back and hardly metropolitan, much less cosmopolitan, in 1911 according to Fred! I'm not sure what Fred's connection to Mr. Jordan might have been. However, I must assume he was a relative (Mr. Jordan's son perhaps) because of the informality of his signature. I would think that an employee or business colleague or even a friend might have included their last name, but one can only speculate. Regardless of who he was, Fred had obviously seen the world upon arriving in Memphis!

Fred indicated that Memphis was "certainly a 'live' town." Who knows? Maybe he ventured onto Beale Street. Then he remarked there were automobiles "by the hundreds." Wow! What would this poor fellow think of rush hour traffic on Interstate 40, if he could visit Memphis today?

This post card---though simple and, at first glance, inconsequential---demonstrates how drastically things have changed over the course of a hundred years.


"Architect Neander Montgomery Woods:  A Man of Mystery and Movement,"  Memphis Heritage.  Retrieved May 2006:

"Exchange Building."  Emporis.  Retrieved May 2006:
Author:  Greg Freeman.  Published May 7, 2006.

Southern Edition

All Rights Reserved
All materials contained on this site, including text and images, are protected by copyright laws and may not be reproduced without prior written permission from the publisher. Where applicable, use of some items contained on this site may require permission from other copyright owners.

Fair Use of text from is permitted to the extent allowed by copyright law.  Proper citation is requested.  Please use this guide when citing a
Southern Edition article.

Contact Greg Freeman or