After the Shelby County criminal courts and jail moved from here in 1982, this National Register Historic District building stood empty until 1998, when extensive renovations were completed and it reopened as the Shelby County Archives and Hall of Records. County Mayor James L. Rout led efforts to convert the structure, as had been proposed earlier by the Descendants of Early Settlers of Shelby County and the West Tennessee Historical Society. When the building reopened, the first official occupants were County Clerk Jayne S. Creson and County Historian Edward F. Williams, III. Local government records dating back to the 1820's are maintained here.
Former Criminal Courts Building
Designed by Jones & Furbringer, Architects, this building opened in 1925 as the Criminal Courts Building, housing two divisions of criminal court, a 300-bed county jail, and various offices. The limestone exterior features several design elements of the Renaissance, including massive scrolls at the setback for the upper floors modeled on those at the Church of Santa Maria Della Salute in Venice. Interior hallways and central staircase are faced with pink and dark cedar Tennessee Marble. Notorious criminals incarcerated here include "Machine Gun" Kelly, the F.B.I.'s 1933 "Public Enemy No. l" and James Earl Ray, convicted assassin of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.