Daryl Lewis: Protecting the Fort
French Fort is an area in Memphis, TN that isn’t known by many people. It’s a small neighborhood tucked away near the downtown area. It’s a place many would say that you “run into” as opposed to visiting. When you walk into French Fort, there is a calmness to the neighborhood. The houses are beautiful in age and upkeep. It’s a place that Lewis is proud of.
Lewis feels a sense of security in the Fort. He loves that politicians don’t leave French Fort out of the loop of information. He appreciates the Memphis Police Department for taking care of him and his neighbors when trouble arises. He overall loves the community, which is majority made up of families he’s known since early childhood.
Lewis’s family was one of the first families to move into the French Fort neighborhood. The neighborhood was established in the 60s and although it was on the market, not many people were buying the houses due to the industry that was surrounding it. Thus, it’s always been a close-knit and secluded area for Lewis.
In the Fort, as Lewis likes to call it, there are 2-3 generations of homeowners in French Fort who stand firmly on the idea that their houses should not be sold to others but worked on and always circulated within the family. Lewis is a homeowner in the neighborhood and he has strong opinions about keeping his neighborhood disruption-free including from un-vetted developers in the city of Memphis.
Preserving French Fort is a driving force behind Lewis’s view on the French Fort neighborhood. Who can blame him? French Fort is his home. It’s a place where he’s never seen trouble unless there were outside influences. French Fort is where the entrance and exit have surveillance and Lewis takes that as a sign of protection. So when he got word that there were people in the city of Memphis wanting to change his childhood neighborhood, he felt he had to speak up.
Lewis’s issue is not with people coming in and changing the area but he does have an issue with the fact that the community that originally occupied that space isn’t getting any input on the developmental changes people in the city are trying to make. To him, it looks as though people are criticizing the neighborhood while not getting to know the history behind it. French Fort is a family-oriented neighborhood.
Lewis remembers being guided and mentored by many champions in the neighborhood and he appreciates the love that was poured into him. The Fort is a place where keeping senior citizens and young people safe is his number one priority. It’s within walking distance from the Metal Museum. It’s close to the Mississippi River with lots of potential. Lewis believes that French Fort should be a neighborhood that ages in place. He feels so strongly about this because with changes comes new people and possibly new policies. This is an ongoing concern of Lewis because he has seen how newer businesses come into the area and bring unwanted elements, such as the motel that’s close to the neighborhood. Before that building was a motel, Lewis remembers it being a restaurant on the roof of that building with a beautiful view of the river. Now, according to Lewis, the motel is bringing in unwanted behaviors which could impact the the future stability of the Fort.