James Lee House getting restoration two decades in the making - FOX13 News, WHBQ FOX 13

James Lee House getting restoration two decades in the making

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The James Lee house has been virtually untouched for 60 years.

But now Jose Velazquez and his wife are putting everything they have into re-storing the house and turning it into a luxury hotel.

It has been a dream two decades in the making for the couple. 

"Its taken us this long, but here we are, standing in front of it with a sold sign, ready to get started," Velazquez said.

Velazquez officially closed on the house Tuesday.

The official groundbreaking will be in a few weeks but prep work will start immediately.

The goal is to be finished with the project by the end of December.

An ambitious goal- since the plan is to restore the dilapidated home back to the condition of when Captain James Lee built the mansion.

"This, at one point if you can imagine, there were over 40 mansions lining this street and it was known as millionaires row in the mid to late 1800's," Velazquez said.

Velazquez hopes this project will spark a renaissance in the neighborhood-

And add to the already established Mollie Fontaine's and Mallory-Neely House museum.

"So if we're able to bring back interest and community engagement in this area, its not only a local attraction, but certainty that people from the region and the nation can come to Memphis and enjoy yet another slice of what is a wonderful pie of options here," Velazquez said.

Velazquez bought the 8100 square foot house for one dollar from the city of Memphis on the condition an extensive investment would be made.

The project's budget is $2.2 million and will turn the house into five luxury suites, with an emphasis on service.

The house will have all the modern conveniences, but Velazquez says they will be careful to save historical elements.

"We are really going at it with the understanding that at the end of the day, Memphis heritage and will continue to be Memphis heritage long after we are gone," Velazquez said.

Would you like more information on this project? Click here


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