Photo Gallery | Levitt Shell gears up for fifth summer of music since renovation
The Levitt Shell is gearing up for its fifth summer of music since the renovation in 2008. The organization is looking forward to another year of using the outdoor venue as a catalyst for bringing people in the community together.
As most Mempians know, the Overton Park Shell was built in 1936 by the City of Memphis and depression-era Works Progress Administration for roughly $12,000. The Levitt Shell is one of the few band shells remaining from the 27 that were built by the WPA.
Historians refer to the first-ever rock and roll show, which happened to be performed by Elvis Presley, happening at the shell in 1954. According to the venue's website, Elvis took the stage before headliner Slim Whitman, and stole the show.
The Shell was nearly demolished in the 70s to make room for a parking garage after years of groups trying to either revitalize it or destroy it.
After numerous efforts by organizations like Save our Shell and others individuals who fought for the venue over nearly 20 years – the Shell finally had a breakthrough.
In 2007, the Shell started renovations after it partnered with the City of Memphis and the Mortimer & Mimi Levitt Foundation.
Now, hundreds of people gather at the outdoor venue each year flooding the lawn with picnic blankets and folding chairs.
"The Levitt Shell is such a remarkable place in Memphis. It’s wonderful to have a place where you can bring your whole family out for free concerts in a beautiful and safe environment," said the Levitt Shell executive director, Anne Pitts.
She said what is most remarkable about it is that the space provides a common ground through the arts – for musicians, fans and families alike.
"It’s seeing the diversity of our city and our families picnicking on the lawn of the Shell that really makes it such a treasure. Children playing together, people of all cultural backgrounds sitting together – and the best music happening on stage. Now this is Memphis! And you can experience it free of charge," said Pitts.
Since the revitalization, the outdoor venue provides more than 50 concerts each year.