The Universal Life Insurance Company Building is an Egyptian Revival structure designed and built in 1949 by Tennessee’s first African-American architectural firm McKissack & McKissack. The building housed the Universal Life Insurance Company (ULICO) founded by Dr. Joseph E. Walker, J.T. Wilson, M.W. Bonner, Dr. R.S. Fields and A.W. Willis in 1923. The Company’s mission was to build a service institution that would bring jobs and financial assistance to the African-American community during a period when segregation limited access to the mainstream business sector. The ULICO was remarkably successful in its mission and became the second African-American insurance company to attain million-dollar status and the fourth largest African-American owned business in the U. S. The Company served as a catalyst for social equality and economic prosperity for African-Americans nationwide.
The facility is located along the proposed Memphis Heritage Trail and is on the National Register of Historic Places.