Memphian(s) to Meet: the Sansing Family

Posted on April 1, 2014

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By Kendra Lyons

screen_shot_2014-02-27_at_125049_pmThe Sansing’s are your typical Memphian family- Midtowners who work hard, enjoy Memphis culture in its food, music, and entertainment options, and value their time with friends and family when they can find moments to sit down and relax. Members are Jerry, Kitty, Jennifer, Jay, Zeke, and Forrest.

The Sansings are also the proud owners of some prime Memphis real estate, the Ballard and Ballard Obelisk flour building, located where Vance dead ends into the river bluff. A rare example of Egyptian revival architecture in the city of Memphis (hieroglyphics adorn the building’s facade). Originally, the building was used by a flour company. Trucks would enter through the large sliding dock door on the front side of the building, head west, and access the train tracks at the building’s river side.

Today, Ballard and Ballard is a multi-purpose warehouse. There are four main parts to the building: an event venue named No.2 Vance which the Sansing’s charmingly refer to as “The Room with a View” (an understatement considering its sweeping views of the Mississippi River and the trolley which chugs right in front of the back porch), a printing company established in the 1930’s that the family still uses, an office space, and a second floor that includes tons of unfinished space and a recording studio.

IMG_1669“The Room with a View” is used for parties and events and is available for rent year round and is essentially a blank canvas for hosts (and why we chose it for our own launch party last month)- brick walls, high ceilings, bright lighting, blonde hardwood floors, and a jack for your music setup make it the perfect understated space.

Kendra: I feel like no one knows this place exists!

Kitty: We like to think of it as a wonderful hidden gem.

While the Sansings are happy to make a profit off of their tucked away venue in creative ways, they aim to maintain the historical and personal value of the place.

Kitty: People try to tell us to sell it, but I just won’t! I’ll sell my house, but I’m not selling this.

When Kitty took Parker and I on our impromptu tour of No. 2 Vance, she led us from “The Room with a View” to a totally different scene- a fully functioning printing press.

Kitty: We use this to make scale tickets for livestock auctions and grain elevators and things of that nature.

Jerry: It’s a pretty tedious process.

We continued through a set of glass double doors and entered the office, where Kitty and Jerry do their work during the day. An old-school typewriter sat on a desk next to the staircase leading upstairs.

We trudged up the narrow staircase and came to an open space, with a vast emptiness to a our left and a recording studio situated to the right.

We learned that the vast emptiness in fact, previously functioned as an apartment space for Jerry’s oldest son, Jay Sansing, while he attended Rhodes College. For the future, the Sansings see the space serving many functions- a ceiling that goes straight up to the second floor, a coffee shop below, and a space for guests to enjoy music that her sons play.

The modest recording studio housed several guitars, a drum set, a keyboard, a computer, and a sunken-in leather swivel chair. Jay and Forrest Sansing (along with many others), use this space to record and jam out in their free time as they pursue their ambitions of breaking through the Memphis music scene.

Forrest Sansing is currently attending the University of Memphis pursuing a degree in performance Jazz piano. This past year he performed alongside memphis rapper Don Trip at the Beale street music festival. “Sansing Studios” also helped memphis artist Singa Bromfield record his first album.

Kitty: Do you know Yo Gotti?

Kendra: Yes!

Kitty: Yeah he comes here to do his thing sometimes

Standing in the same room that the “King of Memphis” once did was enough for me, but when I put it in context of the historical clash that this warehouse offered was a humbling experience. I reflected on all of the characters and moments this historic building had seen since its establishment in 1921. The industrial age of Memphis’ period as a business hub, the daunting printing process with its detail and precision never quite being enough, the creative flow of the beats and lyrics that go into Memphis rap – in all its honesty and focus on making it big while staying true to your home, and the Sansing family, how they’ve protected all of this because of the pure and simple reason of (wait for it): it means something to them.

And it means something to theGRIND. It was like a sign from someone (maybe Yo Gotti) that No. 2 Vance and the Sansing family come in contact with our new publication. The depth and mystery of the place made us intrigued. It made us want to dig and investigate and ask questions, and the Sansing’s delivered. These interactions are why theGRIND came to life, and they are why we do what we do.

In our modern world, it seems like you can pay for everything. The Sansings are saying enough is enough. They want to share their space with Memphis, and perpetuate its role in downtown Memphis’ history and culture, but it’s not for sale.

And we couldn’t be more pleased with that response.

Contact the Sansing’s: www.no2vance.com | kittysansing@yahoo.com

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Posted in: Memphian to Meet