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Aretha Franklin's house.

Abandoned Birthplace of Aretha Franklin

Field review by the editors.

Memphis, Tennessee

Both the Queen of Soul and the King of Rock and Roll came from humble birthplaces in cotton country, but that's where the similarities end. Elvis's birth shack in Tupelo has been transformed into shrine attraction. Aretha's house in Memphis -- where she was born on March 25, 1942 -- sits abandoned, more a blight than an asset to her old neighborhood.

It's not that people don't come to see it. When we stopped by a friendly neighbor told us that the house was frequently visited by shutterbugs. Memphis has floated several plans for the house over the years, including renovating it into a museum (We were told that Aretha's family bathtub is supposedly still preserved) or simply jacking the house off its foundations and moving it to a more tourist-traveled part of town. But those plans cost money and, unlike Tupelo, Memphis doesn't need Aretha's birthplace; it has plenty of other attractions already. And Aretha herself wasn't too attached to the house. The last time she visited was in 1995, and she was identified far more with Detroit, where her family moved when she was two.

There's an official birthplace sign, and the property has been fenced. When Aretha Franklin died on August 18, 2018, fans swarmed to the site to leave memorial offerings and condolences.

Abandoned Birthplace of Aretha Franklin

406 Lucy Ave., Memphis, TN
South of downtown. I-40 exits 1B or 1C. Drive south on Hwy 1/Danny Thomas Blvd for two miles, then continue straight south onto Wellington St. for about another mile. Turn right onto Cambridge Ave., then first right onto Sardis St., then first right onto Lucy Ave. You'll see two houses with brick column porches on the left; Aretha's house is the next one, the run-down third house, on the left.
Unofficial. Local health policies may affect hours and access.
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