Lincoln American Tower

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Lincoln American Tower
Columbian Mutual Tower NRHP 78002631.jpg
Alternative names Columbian Mutual Life Tower
General information
Architectural style Late Gothic Revival
Location Memphis, Tennessee
Coordinates 35°8′48.15″N 90°3′6.98″W / 35.1467083°N 90.0519389°W / 35.1467083; -90.0519389Coordinates: 35°8′48.15″N 90°3′6.98″W / 35.1467083°N 90.0519389°W / 35.1467083; -90.0519389
Completed 1924
Architectural 290 feet (88 m)
Tip 325 feet (99 m)
Technical details
Floor count 22
Floor area 85,500 square feet (7,940 m2)
Design and construction
Architect Boyer & Baum; Issac Albert Baum
Lincoln American Tower
Lincoln American Tower is located in Tennessee
Lincoln American Tower
Lincoln American Tower is located in the US
Lincoln American Tower
Location 60 N. Main St., Memphis, Tennessee
NRHP reference # 78002631[1]
Added to NRHP July 24, 1978

The Lincoln American Tower is a 22-story building located at the corner of North Main and Court streets in Memphis, Tennessee. It is also a historical landmark, one of the first steel frame skyscrapers built in Memphis. The tower underwent a six-year refurbishing project starting in 2002, and despite a fire in 2006, is now open and accepting tenants.

The building currently features 31 residential apartments, 3 floors of commercial offices, and New York-based Ceriello Fine Foods on the ground floor.


The site itself has a unique history, as it is located near the location of Irving Block Prison, which was on the north side of Court Square, which was used by the Union Army to house Confederate sympathizers during the Civil War. Freeing prisoners from Irving Block Prison was one of the three major objectives of Maj. Gen. Nathan Bedford Forrest's raid in the Second Battle of Memphis.

In 1924, the president of the Memphis branch of the Columbia Mutual Insurance Company (later renamed to the Lincoln American Insurance Company), Lloyd Binford, had the gleaming white tower built overlooking Court Square. Binford later made an infamous name for himself across the country as head of the Memphis Censor Board, which he ran from his own offices on the top floor of the building.[4]

The Lincoln American Tower was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1978.

On October 6, 2006, the building was damaged by fire after embers from a major fire at the nearby First United Methodist Church were carried several blocks by strong winds. The result lit the top few floors of the building on fire, including the roof, and filled much of downtown Memphis with smoke. The nearby Court Annex building was destroyed in the same fire.

Despite the fire, the renovation of the building continued, and the first tenants in 2008 were the Plough Foundation, who leased 4,358 square feet (404.9 m2) of space in the building.[5]


The tower is a replica of New York's Woolworth Building, at one-third scale.[5]

Columbian Mutual Life Assurance Society[edit]

The Columbian Mutual Life Assurance Society was founded in 1903 as the "Columbian Woodmen". Membership was open to men and women. In 1923 there were 24,039 members in 831 lodges spread out across South Carolina, Georgia, Florida, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, Arkansas, Texas, Oklahoma, Missouri, Tennessee, Kentucky, Illinois and Pennsylvania.[6] Under National President Lloyd T. Binford a number of changes were made, including the change of name to the Columbian Mutual Life Assurance Society, the dropping of fraternal titles and a move of the headquarters from Atlanta to Memphis.[7]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ National Park Service (2009-03-13). "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. 
  2. ^ Court Square Center Webpage Archived 2008-09-25 at the Wayback Machine.
  3. ^ Emporis Listing
  4. ^ "Infamous Memphis Censor Built Lincoln American Tower". Memphis Flyer. Memphis, Tennessee. 2006-10-20. Retrieved 2008-09-22. 
  5. ^ a b Ashby, Andy (2008-05-16). "Lincoln American lands first tenants". Memphis Business Journal. Memphis, Tennessee. Retrieved 2008-09-22. 
  6. ^ Preuss, Arthur A Dictionary of Secret and other Societies St. Louis: B. Herder Book Co. 1924 p.94
  7. ^ Fraternal Monitor February 1922 XXXII #7 p. 11
Preceded by
Exchange Building
Tallest Building in Memphis
1924 - 1930
Succeeded by
Sterick Building