Our Panel Boot Victoria

Pink Palace carriage 1970 (3)In 1967, Patterson Transfer Co. donated the panel boot Victoria carriage displayed at the exit of the Memphis history gallery. The Brewster Carriage Company built the vehicle in 1902, and sold it new for $1,300 ( roughly $30,000 in today’s currency). Our panel boot Victoria was owned by Robert E. Galloway, the president of Patterson Transfer.

Don Berkebile from the Smithsonian Institution came to Memphis in November 1967 to examine the Victoria and the wagonette and stagecoach that Patterson Transfer Co. also donated. He noted that the panel boot Victoria was “an excellent example of its type in sound condition and certainly worth of restoration.” Gordon Elston, the museum preparator, directed the restoration, which included stripping the paint, applying original type finish, reupholstering the broadcloth, replacing the leather convertible top, replacing the patent leather dash, seat railing and trim, and constructing new fenders. In total, it took over two years to get the carriage ready for permanent display.

A general rule in preserving artifacts is to move them as little as possible. This guideline exists because every time something moves, there is a risk of damage. Nevertheless, there are many times when relocating artifacts is necessary. They must get into the museum, be placed in storage, gotten out for conservation, and positioned in cases. For the majority of the artifacts in the Pink Palace’s collection, it is a simple matter of putting the object on a cart and wheeling it to a new site. However, the carriage needed a different approach. If it was donated to the museum today, it would be brought by a truck to the loading dock, moved to the second floor on the freight elevator and wheeled to the gallery. However, the carriage was delivered to the museum in April 1970.

In 1970, the entire museum was housed in the Pink Palace mansion with the exhibits located on the first and second floors. Since there was no freight elevator, the front doors were the only way staff could bring objects inside. In fact, the difficulty of getting large objects into the museum was one of the reasons given for constructing a new museum building. The panel boot Victoria just eked through the opening and never made it much past the doors. Once it was inside, staff members displayed it in front of the large mirror in the mansion lobby where it stayed until it moved to the second floor of the new museum building that opened in 1977.

Caroline Mitchell Carrico works in the Exhibit Department at the Memphis Pink Palace Museum. She has a graduate degree in history from The University of Memphis, and the picture of the carriage going through the mansion’s front door is one of her favorite photographs.


The Golf Courses of Clarence Saunders

lnc golfClarence Saunders was a golf enthusiast. When he made his first fortune by founding the Piggly Wiggly self-service grocery store, Saunders joined the Memphis Country Club. He would bet on games and tip his caddies well. Part of the plans for his palatial Cla-Le-Clare (Pink Palace) estate included an eighteen-hole golf course with a curving lake. One of the holes was to be on an island that required players to take a boat across the water. Of course, Saunders lost the property in his battle with Wall Street speculators which left him bankrupt. His golf course eventually became Chickasaw Gardens subdivision with the lake as a public park.

Never one to be out for long, Saunders made a second fortune with his “Clarence Saunders, Sole Owner of My Name” grocery stores. With his new money in hand, he set out to build a second millionaire’s playground. He purchased three hundred acres of land outside of Memphis near Germantown in 1928 and named the estate Woodland Country Club. Hubert T. McGhee, the architect of the Pink Palace, designed a 7,000 square foot log cabin for the property. In addition to a 20 acre lake, swimming pool, boat house with observation deck and servants quarters, Saunders built another 18-hole golf course on the land where St. Francis Hospital currently sits. The par 75 course was 7,200 yards in length making it the longest one in the world at the time of its construction. Saunders opened the course for public play in 1931 and shortened the course to 7,011 yards while making it a par 72. He closed the course to women on Saturday and Sunday mornings “to oblige the men.” Three holes on the course played over the lake. The fourth hole was a par five, which stretched 610 yards along Park Avenue. Saunders often paid golf pros to play with him and give him advice. While he was not a particularly good golfer, often scoring in the mid to high 80s, he was passionate about the game.

Saunders, falling victim to the Great Depression, lost his second fortune and Woodland in 1938. Baseball star “Memphis Bill” Terry bought the property and converted the golf course into pasture for his dairy cows. Ultimately, 65 acres of the former playground became Lichterman Nature Center.

Information from articles “Clarence Saunders Opens Golf Course” and “The Clarence Saunders Legacy,” Jeff Glasgow, Mid-South Golfer, March 1995.

Caroline Mitchell Carrico works in the Exhibit Department at the Memphis Pink Palace Museum. She has a graduate degree in history from The University of Memphis, and she enjoys digging through the museum’s archives.