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William R. Moore

Mr. William R. Moore was born in the hills near Huntsville, Alabama on March 28, 1830. As a result of the death of both his parents, the young Moore was forced to leave school at age 12 and went to work as a farm hand. He worked barefoot in the fields for $ 24 a year with room and board. When the year was over he had saved $12. With a background of self-education, Moore became a sales clerk in Nashville and later moved into a sales position in New York City.

When he was less than 30 years old, Moore went into business for himself in Memphis. He established a wholesale dry goods company, Wm. R. Moore, Inc. Today, this building is listed on the "National Register of Historic Places". Some 85 years later, the Wm. R. Moore dry goods building would become Toyota Center, an integral part of Memphis' AutoZone Park.

During his years in Memphis, he emerged as a civic leader and served in the United States Congress, elected as a Republican to the Forty-seventh Congress (March 4, 1881-March 3, 1883); declined to accept a renomination in 1882; resumed his business activities; member, State house of representatives, 1889-1891;

Mr. Moore in Congress

He died in Memphis, Tenn., June 12, 1909; interment in Forest Hill Cemetery.

The College

He also founded a local college still operating today as the result of a life-long dream of an orphan.

William R. Moore College of Technology is truly a unique institution. It is a private, non-profit institution, the school receives no funding from local, state, or federal governments and is one of the nation's oldest occupational institutions.

Through his will, Memphis learned of his dream to provide young people with the educational opportunities that had been denied him. The bulk of his estate was designated to establish the school.

Although the sum of the estate was considerable at the time of Mr. Moore's death, $500,000, it was not enough to begin his dream. A group of family friends, led by his minister, formed a group of trustees to invest the funds and start the school. After thirty years of investments, the funds were adequate to purchase the land and begin construction of the school in 1938.

The first class convened in January of 1939 and the dream of Mr. Moore has continued to this date. During the first few years the college was open, no tuition was charged and today approximately 65 percent, or almost two thirds of the schooling expense for each student, is paid for from the college trust fund. The college has graduated over 3000 students, with many more thousands receiving training that improved their skills.

The mission of the college is to prepare the people of our community for the work force while enhancing the worth of the individual.

The Dry Goods Store

The renovation of the 1913 William R. Moore dry goods building into Toyota Center received this year's Paul Gruenburg Commercial Rehabilitation Award. This historic eight-story warehouse in downtown Memphis was rehabilitated for use as a 200,000 square foot office building. fine 8-story redbrick square warehouse bldg

photo credit: Jeffrey Jacobs/Architectural Photography, Inc.

The exterior of the building was renovated by repointing the brick masonry and using a chemical paint stripper to restore the brick to its original finish. The lower two floors of the exterior were completely restored.

Bricked-in window openings on the side facades were reopened and new metal windows to match the profiles of the original wood windows were installed on the upper floors. On the interior, a shiny new granite, stainless steel and mahogany vestibule was constructed.

Throughout the building, the rows of original cast concrete columns were retained and left visible to keep the historic warehouse appearance. The restored building not only looks great, it is surprisingly functional, as it also houses the high-efficiency heating and cooling system for the entire four-block ballpark complex.

An elevated skyway on the rear of the building connects it to AutoZone Park.