Preserve America Community:
Collierville, Tennessee (population 47,333) was founded in 1838 and is the second oldest settlement in Shelby County. It was incorporated in 1850, but the Civil War and occupation by Union troops from 1862-1865 decimated the town. Construction began on the town square–the only remaining historic town square in the county–in 1867. Today, it still functions as a gathering place in the heart of the community, hosting free concerts and other events in a park-like setting. Historic buildings surrounding the square have been repurposed for dining, shopping, and other businesses.
Reincorporated in 1870, the community faced several yellow fever epidemics before becoming a bustling railroad town and a thriving agricultural trade center from the turn of the century through the 1940s. The 1950s saw industrial development, and the population grew to 3,625 in the 1970s. In recent years, the population has boomed as FedEx and other corporations have located there.
Collierville is considered one of the leading communities in Tennessee in leveraging its historic assets for economic development and community revitalization. The community’s application featured the renovation and adaptive reuse of the Collierville Christian Church building, now home to the Morton Museum of Collierville History and serving as visitors’ center for the historic Downtown. Other recent accomplishments include improved public accessibility of historic property survey data via an online GIS map and a local Civil War walking tour, part of a multistate Civil War Trails system.
Collierville is a Certified Local Government and a Tennessee Main Street Community and was recently voted the winner in a national Parade magazine contest seeking the best Main Street in America and was featured in a cover story. It has both a National Register Historic District and a local historic overlay district, and adopted a Downtown Small Area Plan to support the historic square and Historic District in 2010. In 2012, Collierville received a Tennessee Department of Transportation enhancement grant to upgrade the pedestrian experience in the Historic District.
A large mural on the south wall of the Masonic Lodge at Washington and Main depicts local history. It was funded in part by “Pennies for Preservation,” a program in which students in local schools collect loose change for beautification projects around town.
For more information:
Town of Collierville www.collierville.com
Morton Museum of Collierville History http://colliervillemuseum.org/museum-history-mission
Parade Magazine best Main Street winner write-up and photo gallery http://parade.condenast.com/326515/parade/americas-best-main-street-and-the-winner-is/
Updated August 23, 2014