yesterday's tennessee

Yesterday's Tennessee


This page presents two related articles that probably appeared in the Henderson County Times circa 1980. This web page was made from clippings in a scrapbook labeled "Henderson County Historical Society 1982-1983" compiled by Virginia Butler, President 1982-1983.

The Glory Days

When you are looking at Lexington and Henderson County and what would have be glory days for Lexington, this would have to run from 1938 till 1962.

Throughout the 40's and ear1y 50's, a lot of business and attention was focused around the old NC and St. L depot on Front Street.

There was Lexington's Coca Cola Co., United Grocery Co., and the old Oakley Hotel which burned in 1941. Also the depot was a gathering place for most of the young adults and teenagers those days at a place called Monk's Grill. This was Lexington's first drive-in restaurant and was owned "Monk" Anderson.

Lexington had four passenger trains daily from Memphis and Nashville during this time. There were always large crowds to meet each train. During World War II, all the draftees and volunteers were transported by train. Sometimes there were gatherings of 400 or more to see the boys leave for military service.

Then as trucking became more prominent, the depot serving Lexington began to slip.

Then downtown Lexington probably enjoyed its greatest success in the early 50's till around 1965.

Because on Saturday afternoons, there was hardly room to walk on the sidewalks around the court square. Most businesses stayed open on Saturday till 9 or 10 p.m;

One of the main drawing attractions to bring people to town on Saturday afternoon was the cowboy pictures of Gene Autry, Roy Rogers, Hopalong Cassidy, The Three Muskateers and etc. There would also be a continued series of the Lone Ranger, The Durango Kid, The Cisco Kid, Captain Marvel to keep their patrons in suspense from one week to the next.

Also in the 30's they would have first Monday Sale on the first Monday of each month. All the farmers, horse owners, dog, and cow owners, and knife traders would gather on the Fairgrounds and bring all kinds of things. You could buy, trade or sell just about anything. It is kind of like our present day Flea Market but much better. The fairgrounds was then known as the boneyard. But in the 40's, the First Mondays began to slip and they faded out probably never to return.

To name a few of the businesses around town that were in their heyday, starting on the corner where Frizzell's is now located and going clockwise, you had the old Lon Austin Drug Store which later became Davies Drugs, First National Bank, Jack Hennessee's Soda Fountain and Bus stop, Frank Brown Store, Mitchell Britt Gro., Central State Bank, Holmes Motor Co., Odle Chevrolet Co. and on the corner where Campbell's is now located was the Holcomb Porter Co. There is where they sold all kind of poultry, produce, coon and opossum hides, fox hides, cow hides, homemade butter and upstairs was Tom Fielder's office. He was at that time one of the biggest cotton buyers in West Tenn. The block became known as the Fielder Block.

Later U-Tote-Em Grocery moved there from where the National Store is now located. They then moved to where Decaturville Sportswear is now located behind Franks Furniture Co. They later changed the name to Big Value and it is now Grigg's Big Star.

Bennett and Joyner, one of Lexington's truly old landmarks was where the Lexington First Federal is now located. Next was Dodds Dry Goods and Walter Wright's Grocery & Funeral Home.

Starting up main street is the oldest business in Lexington, Stewart's Drug Store. Next was Joe V. Holmes Gro., Sullivan's Mercantile Co. which was located where Montgomery's is now located, and next was John Wadley's, O. H. Roberts 5 and 10 cent Store which is now Ben Franklin and has been moved to a new location.

Next was Autry's Beauty and Barbershop, Davis Dry Goods, and on the corner was Timberlake and Buckley's Hardware which is now the site of Stanfill's Cloth Shoppe.

Across Monroe Ave, where the First National Bank now stands, was the old Elks Drug Store which later became Turner's Drugs.

In front of Davies Drugs was where John Hinson had a popcorn stand. Hinson was once referred to as the popcorn salesman in a political speech made by Jackson L. Massey on the Court House lawn when he was running for Public Service Office. Hinson was known from then on as the popcorn salesman.

Other popular businesses just off the square were Thomas Furniture, Long Equipment Co., Gulf Service Station, Joe Webb's Sinclair Station, Lee Cogdell and Son Service Station and Garage, Threadgill Lumber Co., Townsend Electric Co., Britt Shoe Repair, Butler Gro, Stewart Lumber Co., Hanna Motor Co., Essary Sporting Goods, Parker's Service Station, Dennison's Welding Shop, Milam's Second Hand Store, Lexington Dry Cleaners, Dee White's Hardware which later was owned by the Painters and is now Graves Hardware, Brower's Barber Shop which later became Booth's and is now White's Barber Shop, O & S Barber Shop, Hodge's Pool Room which became Helms and then Hemby's.

Some of the most popular cafes in town was Frank Taylor's, The Bluebird Cafe and the most famous was the Dipsy Doodle.

Getting in on the tail of the glory years was the National Store and Kuhns which is now known as Big K. As you know TV and the shopping centers came along with the new found prosperity and has taken its toll and as Margaret Mitchell said, the old time Saturday afternoons we once knew in Lexington are Gone With the Wind.

A Look at Lexington's Past

In a look at Lexington in the past, we made it all around the square but we forgot to mention the fine businesses that occupied the second floor of the buildings around the square.

It seem that back in the 1920's through the 1940's all the doctors offices were upstairs. I guess was this was the tradition from the old Western cowboy shows where when someone got shot they had to help them upstairs.

We also forgot to mention the famous Scott House Hotel that stood where the Post Office now stands. A picture of the Scott House will be run in this issue.

Upstairs above Frizzell's Shoe Store was the office of Dr. Huntsman and later his daughter Dr. Cornelia Huntsman occupied this space. This later became the office of Attorney W. L. Barry.

Over the old First National Bank Building was the office of Attorney Elmer Stewart and Mr. E. D. Deere Ins. Agency and later the Sullivan Ins. Agency.

Above Arthur's Jewelry and Shoe World locations is the office of Attorney E. W. Essary and his father. Now also located in this building is the office of attorneys, Davis, Smith and Anderson.

Joe Davis old office was originally over the Pat Carnal Ins. Agency.

In the past some of the space above Shoe World and Arthur's was the location of the dentist, Dr. John M. Douglass, and Dr. Maxwell had his office there many years past.

Dr. Johnson's office was also above the Central State Bank.

Across on the next corner above Holmes Motor Co. at one time a roller skating rink occupied this space as well as the space being used for elaborate parties. Later this space was used as apartments.

Above Pam's Fashions for many years the Masonic Constantine Lodge occupied this space. Pam's Fashions occupies the location of the original Princess Theater and later the Bluebird Cafe.

On the Fielder block, the only business that we could find any recollection of was the office of Mr. Fielder who used to buy cotton above where Campbell's is now located.

Above the location of First Federal which was the old Bennett-Joyner Building and Anderson's Pool Room, was once the office of the Bell Telephone Company. Also upstairs there was the office of the late Attorney Bob White, Attorney Terry Wright. Above Lee's Discount and Pat Carnal Ins. Agency were the offices of Dr. Summers, dentist: Joe Davis who later moved, and later the offices of W. L. Barry and Charlie Walker, attorneys, and still later Bobby Butler and Attorney William Brooks.

We forgot to mention the present office of W. L. Barry and Charlie Walker and Kenneth Walker who are now occupying the space above the present First Federal Savings and Loan. Also Charles Allison, an accountant, occupies office space above First Federal.

Above Stewarts Drugs there have been a great variety of business both above and below.

Where Grace's Cellar is now located, there was a business once there called the Soup House. Later on Mr. Andy Rhodes had a shoe shop there who later sold to Mr. Bob Smith of Blue Goose. Then it became O & S Barbershop.

Above Stewarts Drugs, Dr. Goff, Dr. Brandon, also Hamilton's Watch Repair, a seamstress shop, and Dr. Ramer. Sr. and the Health office have occupied this space.

The next stairway between Barnes Shoe Jobber and T # & R Clothing, was once the longtime office of Dr. Howell. Also located there was the Red Cross office and the Dennison Ins. Agency, and later the Draft Board, and Charlie Walker's first office in Lexington was located in this space. It was also a meeting place of the VFW when it was first organized.

I am sure that we have left out a few but it was not done intentionally. We hope if we have left anyone that you will excuse us that this is the best information we could gather.

The following three photographs were inserted in the scrapbook between the two articles about Lexington in its heyday.


This is the way it was in the 1940s on a Saturday afternoon.
They are giving away a barrel of flour at Britt's Grocery.

[I think photo above is from the 1930s--David]


The Old Scott House Hotel which used to occupy the corner where the loca1 Post Office
is now [ca. 1980] located. In its day it was a very exclusive hotel.


Can you remember the '50s when the highest priced pair of shoes in Britt's Shoe Store
was $12.95. You could get a good pair of shoes for $10.95 and $8.95 as shown.

See Aerial Views of Lexington in 1953

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