Monday, February 17, 2014

Here are the beginnings of the 4 designs (soon 2 per item) for the Levitt Shell competition. Additional logos, ads, and altering of text and images will occur soon after.

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Levitt Shell

Here is a summary of my findings:

  • The Levitt Shell was made in 1936
    • Note: The Levitt Shell was not named "Levitt" until the Mortimer & Mimi Levitt Foundation, in conjunction with the city,  renovated the shell and began to house 50 free concerts every year1
      • Very inspired by sense of community and heritage, for sure.
  • During the next 30 or so years, the shell had concerts from all sorts of famous and up-and-coming artists. (Slim Whitman, known for his country tunes as well as Elvis Presley).1
  • Note: Elvis had his first performance here.
  • In the 1960s, the city of Memphis was unable to properly keep up the shell, and so they gave it to the Memphis Arts Center Inc. It was scheduled to be turned into a $2 million dollar theatre2
  • Noel Gilbert, conductor of the Memphis City Orchestra at the time, gathered 6,000 signatures to petition to save the shell2
    • Possible influence/result of his help: "Gilbert was also the associate concertmaster of the Memphis Sinfonietta, which eventually became the Memphis Symphony Orchestra in 1960. From 1961 through 1985 he was an active player, contractor, and coordinator for recording sessions held at the local Sun, Stax, American Sound, Hi, and Tanner studios. He can be heard on recordings by Elvis Presley, Isaac Hayes, Al Green, Dionne Warwick, Neil Diamond, and others."3
  • 1972, the Shell was almost demolished, again, to make room for a parking garage2
  • 1982: The National Conference of Christians and Jews (NCCJ) proposed raising funds for renovation of the Shell1
    • Never quite made the funds 
  • 1984: John Hanrahan tried to single-handily keep the Shell from being demolished. He died in 1986, unfortunately.2
    • After that, the Shell remained dormant until Save our Shell organization was founded
  • 2005: The Shell was renamed Levitt Shell, in honor of the Mortimer and Mimi Levitt Foundation working in conjunction with the city of Memphis to renovate and remodel the historical, musical theatre.2
What I considered fairly important in the history of the Levitt Shell:

The chronological series of events shows how dedicated the people of Memphis were to preserving a piece of important history. It was interesting to see the contrast between the City and the few individuals who were concerned with the welfare of the Levitt Shell; one side wanted improvements for Memphis as a functioning whole, while the individuals wanted to keep a sense of culture and community.

The Levitt Shell is a piece of musical history that was fought for by a variety of individuals and groups, and it is now, gladly and happily still a part of the city of Memphis, TN.



1. "History of the Shell." Levitt Shell History of the Shell Comments. (accessed February 6, 2014).
2. "Scotty Moore - Overton Park Shell." Scotty Moore - Overton Park Shell. (accessed February 9, 2014).                                                                                           

 Thumbnails for poster/t-shirt designs.