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Whitehaven is a vast predominantly African-American neighborhood in Memphis, first organized in the late 19th century. Its current population is about 50,000.


Whitehaven is the largest neighborhood in South Memphismarker and is roughly bounded by Brooks Road on the north and the Mississippimarker state line on the south, with the 3rd Street on the west and Airways Boulevard on the east.

The major traffic artery of the community is U.S. Route 51, later known as Elvis Presley Boulevard. This roadway began as a toll "Plank Road" built between Memphis and Hernando, Mississippi, in 1852.


The community takes its name from a Colonel Francis White who was an early settler and major property owner. White was influential in getting a rail line to come through what was first called White's Station, later White Haven and then Whitehaven. This Mississippi and Tennessee Railroad was chartered in 1853, and the first trains ran in 1856. The first "White Haven" post office was opened in 1871. The roads and train tracks connected the cotton farms of the delta to Memphis markets, establishing strong commercial links.

Some of the other founding family names are Raines, Hale, McCorkle, and Harbin. E. W. Hale moved to the area in the 1880s and opened a store near what is now Whitehaven High School on Highway 51. Hale's Store was a landmark for many decades.

In 1926, WREC radio began operations there, and in 1928 Whitehaven's Hoyt B. Wooten was one of the first six television licensees in America. His original home is the centerpiece of a private development called Lion's Gate.

Much of the later residential and commercial development was done by Carrington Jones and Lacy Mosby in the mid 20th century to provide housing for "baby boom" families who moved from Memphis to a pleasant environment in the old community. This gradually transformed plantation tracts to neighborhoods in the late 40s and 50s.

Originally a farm community, Whitehaven was developed as a whites-only residential suburb of Memphis in the 1950s and early 1960s and annexed by the city of Memphis in 1969. Whitehaven was integrated in the late 1960s and white flight happened over next couple of decades.


Three high schools are in the Whitehaven area: Whitehaven High School, Hillcrest High School and Bishop Byrne High Schoolmarker. Whitehaven High School was opened by 1911 and was the only highschool in the community until Hillcrest opened during the 1950s and 1960s. Bishop Byrne, a private co-educational Catholic high school adjacent to St. Paul Church on Shelby Dr., opened in 1966.

Public Secondary Schools

  • Fairley High School
  • Whitehaven High School
  • Hillcrest High School
  • Havenview Middle School
  • Lanier Middle School
  • A Maceo Walker Middle School
  • Graves Elementary School
  • Whitehaven Elementary School
  • Boeingshire Elementary School
  • Gardenview Elementary School
  • Robert R Church Elementary School

Private Schools

  • Bishop Byrne
  • St. Paul
  • St. Joseph

Places of interest


Graceland Mansion
Whitehaven's major tourist attractions are still Gracelandmarker mansion and the annual Elvis Week, attracting many thousands there annually to remember "The King" on the anniversary of his death on August 16, 1977.

During the two decades he lived in Whitehaven, Elvis spent as much time as possible at his home and was a beloved "neighbor" to residents there.

Elvis Presley bought his famous home, Graceland, in 1957; soon afterward the farmland surrounding the estate was subdivided into homesites.

Southland Mall

For the next decade there was rapid development, with Whitehaven Plaza shopping center becoming the area's commercial center.

The first enclosed shopping mall in the country, Southland Mall, opened near Shelby Drive and Elvis Presley Blvd in 1966. Southland Mall is still a destination for shoppers from all over the region. It greatly helped the community to prosper.

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