One of the Memphis attractions we really wanted to see was the Pink Palace, designed for Clarence Saunders, founder of the Piggly-Wiggly self-service grocery chain. A twenty minute ride on the number 5 bus out of downtown Memphis, brought us to the 155 acre (now mostly gone to developers) site of this beautiful mansion. It was sad to learn that Saunders never got to live here, as he lost everything in the collapse of the Memphis economy (1923) before it was completed. Unlike many of the mansions-turned-museums we toured in Europe, there are no period furnishings to show how the Saunders family would have lived here. Instead, the many rooms are setup in typical museum exhibit style. While it appeared grand on the outside, being devoid of the Saunders family's personal touches seemed to take away from the experience (imagine touring Highclere in England to see what life was like in Downtown Abbey, only to go through a bunch of empty rooms).
Don't get us wrong, the many natural and scientific exhibits throughout the mansion were informative, but we had seen this style before. We were hoping for a look into the luxurious life-style of the rich, which was not here. It was missing. Too bad! What was also missing from the tour was access to the basement level bowling alley, movie theater, swimming pool, and shooting gallery, which we felt would have been interesting to see.
If you are interested in more history about the Pink Palace and Clarence Saunders, here are a couple of links to look at;