A judge upheld the sale and demolition of the historic Nineteenth Century Club on Friday.
"The city of Memphis is going to lose another historical treasure which is the reason we brought this action in the first place," said Nineteenth Century Club Member Teresa Hurst.
The women's club members have 14 days to file an appeal, according to the 27-page decision; otherwise, the Union Avenue mansion's demolition proceeds Sept. 20.
"It's very painful; very, very painful," said Heritage Memphis Exec. Dir. June West, "There is a lack of respect on the part of a lot of people in regards to our heritage and our culture."
Four Nineteenth Century Club members filed a suit claiming the sale of the storied mansion is invalid because not all of the club's members voted.
Chancellor Walter Evans' decision states three of the four club members in the lawsuit not active members of the Nineteenth Century Club, and that it was clear to members that they were voting to sell the storied mansion.
"There's a lot in the opinion that we actually agree with. There's not a lot of factual dispute," said the club members' attorney Steve Mulroy, "What there really is is a different interpretation of the law. We contend that voting to list a property for sale is not the same thing as authorizing to sell it."
The 106-year-old historical structure suffered maintenance and city code violations for the past 12 years. In January, the Union Group LLC bought the building at an auction.
West says the historic preservation community is fighting to save the building because, shortly after the Union Group began demolition plans, a buyer offering more money came forward wanting to preserve the mansion to create a five-star establishment.
"He has the money, he has the ability to make it work. If that was an upscale five-star restaurant with an event space... we are lacking event spaces in Memphis that are historic properties," said West, "They just don't exist anymore because of this unfortunate situation of demolishes."
The defendants did not want to comment after court Friday. Dick Hackett with the Children's Museum of Memphis said they had to "get back to work to help the children."
The Children's Museum of Memphis received nearly $500,000 in donations from the club building's sale.
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