The History of Overton Square
In 1969, Overton Square Founders & Developers James D. Robinson, Jr. (23), Ben Woodson (25), Charles H. Hull, Jr. (24), and Frank Doggrell, III (25) led the efforts to pass a referendum to allow establishments to sell liquor by the drink. The approved license was driven from Nashville right to the doors of T.G.I. Friday's in Overton Square, the first franchised location outside of New York City. It quickly became a success and an anchor for other shops, restaurants, pubs, and other attractions.
In the 70’s, Overton Square was home to 11 restaurants, 27 shops and employed 800 Memphis locals. Over time, the Square was home to an ice skating rink, Solomon Alfred's, the Mississippi River Co., the Public Eye, Bombay Bicycle Club, Gonzales & Gertrude's, the Hot Air Balloon, Lafayette's Music Room, Yosemite Sam's (originally a disco), Godfather's Supper Club, Trader Dick's, and the original Huey's. Pub crawls attracted over 40,000 people and Christmas at Overton Square was known for its carolers, roasted chestnuts and for bringing snow to the Mid-South every year.
Overton Square fell into disrepair in the 1980's as businesses closed and a series of absentee owners led to further area-wide blight. In 2012, developers Robert and Louis Loeb of Loeb Properties, Inc., purchased Overton Square to save the area from imminent demolition. Each building was thoroughly renovated, public art installed throughout the neighborhood, a new public parking garage and detention pond constructed, and new tenants began to move in.
Overton Square today is home to thriving businesses anchored by five live-performance theaters and a multi-screen movie theater. Loeb Properties is cultivating this local landmark into a new kind of arts and entertainment district that is a destination for locals and visitors alike.