Historic Markers Across Tennessee

Universal Life Insurance Building Universal Life Insurance Company

Marker ID: THC 4E 131
Location: 480 linden Avenue, Memphis, TN
County: Shelby
Coordinates: N 35° 8.215    W 090° 2.760
  35.13691666    -90.046
Style: Free Standing **
Waymark: None


Universal Life Insurance Building

Designed by the African-American architectural firm of McKissack and McKissack and constructed in 1949, this building houses the national headquarters of the Universal Life Insurance The Egyptian-Revival style of this building is an ongoing example of the interest that African Americans developed in the 1920s in Egyptian art. During the era of racial segregation, it was one of the few places where Blacks could gather for their civic and social affairs.

Universal Life Insurance Company

Founded in 1923 by Dr. J.E. Walker, with cofounders A.w. Willis, Sr., and M.W. Bonner, this family business grew to be the fourth largest African-American-owned life insurance company in the United States. Dr. Walker's son, A. Maceo Walker, continued the business from 1952 until 1983. He was succeeded by his daughter, Patricia Walker Shaw, who ran it until her death in 1985. Descendants of all three families made significant contributions to the company's growth.
Shelby County, in Memphis, 480 linden Avenue

Erected by Tennessee Historical Commission