The Memphis Defense Depot was created in 1941 for the Army Quartermaster Corps and located here due to the availability of access to the Frisco Railroad switching yard. It was constructed on 642 acres of former cotton fields purchased from Abe and Ben Goodman and from Nellie Flanagan. Initial construction included the Administration Building and the 20 concrete warehouses known as the "Typical 20s." The commander during World War II was Brigadier General Wilmot A. Danielson.
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Primary military supplies handled were clothing, food, and medical equipment. The Depot staff peaked in May 1943 with 4726 civilian and 162 military personnel. Between 1943 and 1945, 800 German and Italian prisoners-of-war were held at the Depot. The complex of six steel-frame warehouses was added in 1954 and three modern warehouses completed between 1988 and 1996. Under the Defense Realignment and Closure Act of 1990, the Depot closed as a military facility on September 30, 1997, but will continue in civilian use.