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Sunday, January 31, 2010

James Geddes Engine Company No. 6

James Geddes Engine Company No. 6

This former Fire Hall is located on 2nd ave. (US41A/US31A) at the corner of Middleton St. It comes from back in the days when fire engines were a little bit smaller. There used to be a bell tower and steeple on the top right, but it was destroyed in a storm and never rebuilt.. It's listed on the National Register of Historic Places #78002580. The building to the left was at one time part of the Vanderbilt campus.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Hotel Halbrook

Hotel Halbrook

Claim to fame: 1920 Birthplace of Frank Clement, former Governor of Tennessee and father of Bob Clement who has long been an important Democrat in middle Tennessee. At the time of his birth, the Hotel was operated by his parents. The street it is on in Dickson, TN has been renamed to Frank G. Clement Place.

The hotel was built in 1912 and is one of the few remaining rural railroad hotels. The building is currently being converted to a railroad & Local History Museum.

At one time, was known as Edwards Hotel. On the National register of Historic Places.

Friday, January 29, 2010

The Nashville City Park that Time forgot

The Nashville City Park that Time forgot

Lock One Park may be on your Nashville map, but you don't want to go there. This place was built in 1890, and was used as a ferry and a boat dock, then the US Army Corps of Engineers made it as one of the 14 Locks on the Cumberland River, but when the dam was built forming Old Hickory Lake, there was no need for a lock here, and the land was given to the city for a city park in the 1950s.

from there, I am not sure what happened. If you go today, you can park on the street right next to the area. A chain link rope suggests you should stay away. The location is full of concrete steps, rusty guardrails, a couple of tracks that lead down to water level, and a bunch of things that look genuinely unsafe.

Abandoned incline tracks at abandoned park

I thought I would never see anybody here, but I have. This spot is across the river from Metrocenter, and you can see this place from the levee greenway. The day I walked that greenway, a family of four was here with all of the boys fishing.

Ironically, Lock Two Park is also old and crusty, but a place you can take your kids.

If I were to pan the camera to the right in the top photo just a little bit, you'd see downtown. If you look closely on the top right, you'll see the green road signs of where I-65 crosses the river.

Recommended reading: The parks of Nashville: A history of the Board of Parks and Recreation

Thursday, January 28, 2010

El Rancho Court

El Rancho Court

El Rancho Court Motel just north of the town square in Trenton, GA. Trenton is the county seat of Dade County, GA and this is along highway U.S. 11, which is the old route to connect Birmingham and Chattanooga. This highway is much less frequently used after the opening of Interstate 59 and this motel was for sale. This is about 20 miles south of Chattanooga. My wife and I stayed here after spending the day at Noccalula Falls in Gadsden, Al. At least on that day, the neon in the sign still worked.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Homestead Museum & Water Tower

Homestead museum & water tower

Around Cumberland County, everything is made of the Crab Orchard sandstone. South of Crossville, near the entrance to Cumberland Mountain State Park is the Homestaed Museum, which was built as a water tower by the Civilian Conservation Corps in the New Deal era. Located at the intersection of US127 and TN68. This is one of things you may drive by on the World's Longest Garage Sale, and I remember the traffic here was really crowded.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

The Smyrna, TN Train Station

The Abandoned Smyrna, TN Train Station

Here's a photo that I find interesting for personal reasons. Growing up, I always found trains somewhat interesting. Then, when I got married, my wife and I bought a house near some train tracks, part of the same CSX line that runs from Chattanooga to Nashville's Radnor Yard as the Smyrna Depot. The trains didn't particularly keep me awake, but the time I spent thinking about trains made me want to learn more about them.

One evening when we went to eat dinner in Smyrna, I stopped for a moment and got a picture of the depot, not knowing that almost a year to the day later I would be moving to Smyrna about a mile from here.

I've never put much thought into how towns get started. In the heyday of railroads, trains connected the big cities, and smaller cities sprouted up every 10 miles or so along the major rail lines. A depot was first built in 1851 with this replacement being built in 1873, and the town of Smyrna grew rapidly around it, whereas other cities created as train stops like Rucker and Fosterville are still quite rural.

When this picture was taken, the historic area around the depot was being revitalized, as a roundabout was about to be built on Front Street behind where I am standing. Also, in the hopes of creating a new tradition, 2007 saw the first Depot Days festival held at this location.

Recommended website: Historic Smyrna

Monday, January 25, 2010

The Ascent at Cowan

The ascent at Cowan

Cowan, TN is an important spot in the train line that runs from Nashville to Chattanooga. This is the last stop before the train makes the ascent up and then through the historic pre-civil war mountain ridge tunnel. The Depot in Cowan has been recently restored and is open as a train museum.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Meramec Caverns Barn

Meramec Caverns Barn

Yesterday, I posted a Ruby Falls (formerly Rock City) advertising barn. This is the other side.

This barn, which is now in area of lush overgrowth, used to be seen by many mototists passing between Nashville and Chattanooga. If you were heading south, you would see this barn advertise first Rock City and now Ruby Falls. Travelling north, you see the sign say "See Jesse James Hideout MERAMEC CAVERNS U.S.66 STANTON, Mo."

Meramec Caverns is indeed along the Mother Road, the Old Route 66, so now think how long ago this was probably painted. The newer barns for Meramec Cavers tell you it's located off I-44. These ads are plentiful in Missouri, but most of the remaining painted barns in the south are for Rock City. I'm not aware of any other Meramec barns anywhere near here.

This is located on US Highway 41 in Coffee County. If you see Noah, TN on your map, that's where this barn is located.

On a personal note, The Missouri Department of Transportation Historic Preservation group contacted me for this picture, so they could print it at a rest stop in the area.

If you like this kind of thing, I recommend this book: Advertising Barns by William Simmonds

Saturday, January 23, 2010

See Ruby Falls

See Ruby Falls

If you live in the not-so-deep south, if you were to think of an advertising barn, you's think of the many "See Rock City" barns that used to be all over the countryside. This barn used to be one of those. At some point, however, their less-prolific barn painting Lookout Mountain tourist trap rivals were permitted to repaint this barn with a "See Ruby Falls" message in their colors of red and turquoise.

This barn is on U.S. Highway 41 right on your map where it says Noah, TN in Coffee County, just north of Manchester. With the construction of Interstate 24 about 40 years ago, this highway is less often used now. So this was probably painted before then, and would have been a rock city barn before that. Rock City Paint was some high quality mixture, and has been known to outlast many things. Is it possible that the ruby falls paint has chipped just enough that the Rock City white is beginning to show?

In the next post tomorrow, we'll take a look at what the other side has to advertise.

Friday, January 22, 2010

The Bluebird Cafe Sign

The Bluebird Cafe Sign

This unassuming little sign is for the Bluebird Cafe, which is not known as much for being a cafe as it is well known for being an intimate concert venue for better aspiring songwriters. It's a place that you'd almost miss if you weren't looking there, and this sign out front is something I've overlooked for years. I've never been inside, as there is always quite a line to get in.

It's located in the Green Hills area of Nashville on Hillsboro Rd. (U.S. 431)

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Faded U.S. 70 Mural - Dickson

Faded U.S. 70 Mural

While not as historically significant as the "National Road" (US 40) or "Lincoln Highway" (US 30), U.S. 70 was one of the prominent east-west highways across America, and was known as Broadway of America. In the heart of Dickson, TN, this is all that remains of a mural that depicts the route of Broadway of America through Tennessee, however with East and West switched.

Towns identified along the mural are Bristol, Kingsport, Rogersville, Rutledge, Knoxville, Kingston, Rockwood, Crossville, Sparta, McMinnville, Woodbury, Murfreesboro, Nashville, White Bluff, Burns, Dickson, Tenn City, McEwen, Waverly, Camden, Bruceton, Huntington, Jackson, Brownsville and Memphis. For those of you that are interested in such things, the route shows here follows what is now US 70S instead of US70 from Nashville to Sparta, which is an older configuration. Before it was part of Broadway of America, this route was originally known as the Memphis-to-Bristol Highway or State Route 1. East of Knoxville, US 70 splits off from this route as it heads toward Ashville, NC

I'd love to find more information about this, or see an old picture of it in it's glory days.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Nashville's Billy Graham statue

Nashville's Billy Graham statue

The people at Lifeway Christian built this statue of Billy Graham on their property in downtown Nashville.

The funny thing is it took me an hour to find this. I knew their building was across the street from Union Station, but I guess I never realized how much property they owned. I started on Broadway and walked the length of their property across 10th avenue when I concluded it wasn't at "gulch-level." I walked up through the TSU parking lot to McLemore Ave to Church Street, and it wasn't on Church St. either. From there, I examined Lifeway Plaza, 9th, Commerce Street, and then finally its actual location on 8th. so I got a few shots of it, and then my batteries died.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

AT&T Building at Dusk

At&T Building at Dusk #3 - 18 Minutes after Sundown

As of the beginning of 2008, Nashville's most prominent skyscraper, the BellSouth Building was renamed and re-logoed the AT&T building. With the two spires at top, it has been locally dubbed as the Batbuilding. Maybe I'll call it the Bat&tbuilding.

Until the Signature Tower gets built (which may never happen), this is Nashville's tallest skyscraper at 617 ft and 33 floors. It was built in 1994, very briefly using a South Central Bell logo. Another logo in this view has changed. The Red CVS Caremark was just a white Caremark, and that change was made in 2007.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Clarksville Customs House

Clarksville Customs House

This building in the heart of Clarksville has served many uses since it was built in 1898. It's been known as the Post Office, Federal Building, the Clarksville Dept. of Electricity and now serves as a museum.

It's a relatively small building, but quite flamboyant for its size. Its design is unique in Tennessee. It has a highly pitched roof, large eagles on each of the four courners, steeply gabled windows and elaborate terra-cotta ornamentation in this Queen Anne-styled building.

The foundation is made of smooth stone. The walls are natural brick with decorative terra-cotta around all openings and on the corners. The hipped roof with flared eaves has a steel frame and covered with slate.

This building was designed by William Martin Aiken, who was also the supervising architect of the U.S. Treasury.

For those of you who like neon signs, I saw a photo of this building from the mid-70's where there was a fabulous "Dept. of Electricity" neon sign on it.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Jones Pet Shop

Jones Pet Shop

This location was a pet store for decades in the trendy Hillsboro Village section of Nashville (near Pancake Pantry). Then, Bongo Java opened a coffee shop here and stayed with the dog theme with the name. It's popular with the Vandy crowd.

Back in the days when it really was a pet shop, when a customer would come into the store, a talking bird would say "Jones Pet Shop."

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Inflatable Alien sighting in Franklin

Inflatable Alien sighting in Franklin, Tn

This home is about a half mile from historic downtown Franklin, Tn On Hwy 96, the main road to Murfreesboro. Oh, there's also an Inflatable green alien in a purple hoodie in a UFO. In this picture you can see the house better. Since this picture was taken, I have driven past the house again with different inflatables out front. Once it was a Tennessee Titans lineman

Friday, January 15, 2010

State Fair Petting Zoo: Audad

100 Things to see at the fair #29: Audad

Yes, this was labeled in the Petting Zoo as an Audad, and no, I hadn't heard of it either. Googling it found that the more common spelling is Aoudad. Googling that took me to the Wikipedia page where I find the more common name is Barbary Sheep, and I suppose I may have heard of those before. Even though it is called sheep, it is more similar to a goat or an antelope, and they originally come from northern Africa. This fella was anxiously waiting for you to pet him.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Davidson County Courthouse (old)

Davidson Co. Courthouse (old) 1

The 1937 Davidson County Courthouse was the 5th (of 6) to be used in Nashville.

In 1935, the Courthouse of 1857 burned, and the county decided to make the replacement building in the public square the County Courthouse and Nashville City Hall.

A competition was held to design the new building, and the winning Architects were Emmons H. Woolwine of Nashville and Fredrich C. Hirons of New York with their WPA-influenced Art Deco design. The Cornerstone was placed on Aug. 10, 1936 and was dedicated on Dec. 8, 1937. The building cost $2,000,000 and was the first building in the city with air conditioning. The building is eight stories high and measures 260 feet by 96 feet. The official title of the building was Davidson County Public Building and Court House, which is etched across the top above the columns.

After several decades of use, updates were needed. Starting in 2003, the Courthouse began an extensive renovation. (When I was summoned for jury duty, courts were held in MetroCenter.) For additional space, a newer courthouse was built nearby with similar design themes. Also, the surface parking lot in front of the courthouse was replaced by an underground lot, and a small public park. The park has an observation deck, large lawn, small reflecting pool and picnic tables.

The quality of the Architecture placed the building on the National Register of Historic Places. As a significant Public Works Administration project, it is an example of Government Art Deco. The symbolism and Classical Columns are typical of a public building. The excellent craftsmanship is seen in the decorative work: Bronze castings, terra cotta and carvings.

This photo was taken in late fall, which means the water in the fountains and the reflecting pool is not there. However the marble makes for a good reflective surface, plus a city employee had just pressure-washed the leaves, giving me a calm reflection.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Lebanon City Hall - Castle Heights

Lebanon, TN City Hall - Castle Heights

Castle Heights Military Academy was a military academy in Lebanon, Tennessee. The Academy was founded as Castle Heights School in 1902. In 1918, it became a military preparatory school. The school ceased operations in 1986 in the face of declining enrolment. Its buildings have been restored and the main building now serves as the Lebanon City Hall and Lebanon Museum and History Center. The Cracker Barrel Headquarters is also on the property.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Palace Theater - Gallatin

Palace Theater - Gallatin, TN

Located in Historic Downtown Gallatin, the completely restored Palace Theater is the oldest silent movie theater still standing in Tennessee. It is listed on the National Register of Historic Places (as part of the Gallatin Commercial Historic District) and hosts a variety of shows, movies and events.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Half of a Pink Cadillac

Half of a pink Cadillac

Now, there's something you don't see everyday. I was surprised to see this when driving along the old highway that runs from Smithville to Sparta once I was in White County, TN, in what I thought was a residential area.

As it turns out, after two minutes of internet research, it's the entrance to a dance club called Cadillac Ranch.

Hammer's in Winchester


This store bought one, then another, then another of the buildings on the south side of the Winchester, TN Town Square until they had the entire side. I'm not sure how to describe the discount store. Half of the store is clothing. My wife and I bought a rug, but we almost bought a birdhouse and a plush alligator.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

World's Largest Cedar Bucket

World's Largest Cedar Bucket

This 800 pound bucket was originally built as a promotional exhibit by the Tennessee Red Cedar Woodenworks Company, a manufacturer of cedar buckets in Murfreesboro. The bucket resided in Murfreesboro, but was exhibited at the World's Columbian Expostion in Chicago in 1893 and at the Louisiana Purchase Exposition in 1904. In 1950 the cedar bucket factory burned, and the bucket was sold to a local grocer, who kept in on display adjacent to the store. Around 1965 the bucket was auctioned off to an amusement park in Rossville, Georgia.

The bucket was brought back to Murfreesboro in 1976, where it is now on display in Cannonsburgh Village. For a while, Murfreesboro had a nickname of Bucket Town or Bucketville, but you rarely hear that anymore. For a long time, the bucket was kept in a large shelter gazebo enabling people to be able to walk up to it.

Unfortunately, tragedy befell the bucket on June 19, 2005. Arsonists set fire to the bucket almost nearly destroying the bucket. As you can see, you can't get close to it anymore, and this is the more intact side. the bucket is now blackened and splintered charcoal shards held together by metal bands.

The Bucket is about six feet tall, with a diameter of six feet at the base and 9 feet at the top.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Old Hickory Bridge - Nashville

Old Hickory Bridge - Nashville

There are 14 bridges over the Cumberland river in Nashville, and this is one of the oldest. Construction ran from 1927-28 and was two lanes across the river for Old Hickory Blvd., the large loop around the city. In the 60s, a second bridge was opened next to this one so that each direction could have two lanes. In addition to the 2nd bridge, the street, which used to not curve here, was changed. All the traffic between Hermitage and Madison was routed across the new "Highway 56" which runs parallel to Old Hickory Boulevard from here to Gallatin Pk.

Something else easy to miss: There is a etching in the concrete on the right side, which was easier to see when traffic went both ways through here. In this picture, it is obscured by the dogwood tree but says:
Davidson County, Tenn
Litton Hickman, County Judge
County Highway Commission
Finley M Dorris Chairman
Joe S Boyd
John M O'Mohundro
Bridge Comittee:
B E McCarthy
Ira E Parker
Lou Huggins
T B Hargin

Friday, January 8, 2010

Sgt. Alvin C. York's burial site

Sgt. Alvin C. York's burial place

Tennessean and U.S. hero Alvin C. York was one of the most decorated soldies in World War I. On Oct. 8, 1918, while leading a small patrol through the Argonne Forest in France, Sgt. York had the assignment to eliminate a flank of opposition machine gun fire that was halting his regiment's advancement. York found himself alone facing a German machine gun unit and he took them on with only a rifle and a pistol. The fight ended with over 20 German soldiers dead and another 132 soldiers surrendering along with their four oficers and 35 machine guns. For his efforts he was awarded a dozen medals including the Congressional Medal of Honor.

After the War, he returned to his family farm in Pall Mall, nestled in the Tennessee Mountains. York never seeked to capitalize on his fame, and instead led a quiet life.

York's Family farm, grist mill, and burial site are now maintained by Tennessee as a State Historic Park.

The Cemetery, known as Wolf River Cemetery was established in the early 1800's. The Valley's first settler and ancestor of Sgt. York, Conrad Pile, is also buried in this cemetery in an unusual above-ground grave. Sgt. York died on Sept. 2, 1964. The cemetery is accessible from the rest of the farm by a 10 minute drive or a shorter walk that includes a new pedestrian bridge over Wolf Creek. The drive also passes a Sulfur Spring which is very pungent.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Newsom's Mill

Newsom's Mill - Nashville, TN

This is the remains of a grist mill located along the Harpeth River along the western edge of Davidson County. Built in 1862, the area is now under the oversight of the TN State Park system, as this is one of several locations of the Harpeth River State Park, (such as the Montgomery Bell Tunnel or Hidden Lake). This is located just off U.S. 70, and has a small parking lot on the other side. Visitors can walk up to and, to a lesser extent, through the mill where you can read signs explaining the remnant machinery on the inside. It is now on the National Register of Historic Places.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Drink Double Cola barn

Double Cola barn

Have you ever driven somewhere and saw an unexpected sight you really wanted a picture of, only to find you left your camera's memory card at home? Then you can't wait to drive back to the same place again... That's what happened to me here. Highway TN 249 connects Pegram to Ashland City in Cheatham Co., TN. When getting closer to Ashland City, TN249 becomes River Road which Parallels the Cumberland River. This is just a couple of miles south of Ashland City.

Double Cola is Headquartered in Chattanooga, TN, and although it reaches as far north as Evansville, IN, it is not distributed as widely as it used to. I have never seen it for sale anywhere in Nashville, but I once saw it for sale at a gas station in Smyrna.

It looks like the barn is "getting a big lift" from the Double Cola sign.

Here's a closeup of the once commonplace sign:

Drink Double Cola. Get a Big Lift

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Montgomery County Courthouse - Clarksville

Montgomery Co. Courthouse 1

This is the 4th Courthouse to be built in Clarksville. It was constructed in 1879 for $100,000, and was placed in a location that was away from the town square. It was designed with Italianate and Victorian elements in a classical style and is topped with a tall clock tower.

This courthouse was built after a devestating fire turned the previous courthouse and much of the city was turned to rubble. On April 13, 1878, the fire started, which was aided by wind as well as the town's only fire engine broke down early. This fire wasn't fully out until another fire engine was sent by train from Nashville.

On March 12, 1900 another fire almost destroyed this courthouse. It was believed to have started in the southeast section of a flue in the office of the Circuit Court Clerk. By now, the town had learned its lesson and had better fire-fighting practices in place, which saved the building. Steel girders and beams in the ceiling were anchored in cement keeping the lower floor intact, although the roof and tower collapsed. After inspection, the remnants were deemed structurally sound and the building was rebuilt with a new clock and the soaring bronze eagle was reinstated in his aerie on the top.

On March 20, 1976, heavy winds caused the eagle on top to be blown off and it was feared to be lost but eventually found and reattached.

Disaster struck again on Jan. 22, 1999, when an F4 tornado struck downtown, crippling the courthouse and causing $74 million damage to the city. Sections of the roof and spires were ripped away, the clock tower was leveled and the east wall was collapsed. The eagle was never found. After considering building a new courthouse, city leaders decided to rebuild this one again. The exterior was rebuilt to look just like it had been and the interior was redesigned. A replicated tower and eagle was again placed on top. All repairs were completed in the fall of 2002.

How long will it last this time? Clarksville has a very storied past of disasters with fires, tornados and floods.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Fox's Donut Den animated neon sign

Animated Gif: Fox's Donut Den

Here's something that has been in the news a lot lately...

When Norman Fox opened his Donut Den in Green Hills in the late 1970s, this animated donut sign soon followed. After 30 years as a popular business, this sign is practically considered a local landmark.

However, in the summer of 2009, the future of the sign was in jeopardy. The owners of the shopping center wanted to modernize the appearance and have all the businesses there have a uniform appearance. When the Donut Den fans heard about this, there was a public outcry. This prompted the owners of the shopping center to put it to a vote. IF enough people wanted the sign to stay, then they would allow it.

In September, a press conference was held to show the results of the vote. A board was brought out proclaiming "The Sign Stays!" An overwhelming 97% of the voters wanted the sign to stay in it's rightful place along the Hillsboro Rd. storefront.

"I think it's almost like the mom and pops are disappearing to the point that we're down to the last few. So, I think the fact we're almost down to the last one caused people to wake up and say, 'Let’s at least do this one,'" said Fox.

If you've never checked them out before, check them out.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Union Station

Union Station

Most views of Union station tend to look from the front across the street (broadway). This is a fuller view of the building from the side, taken from the Broadway viaduct.

The depot was built in 1900 in a castle-like late-Victorian Romanesque Revial style. The clock on the tower was one of the earliest digital clocks, but is now a traditional clock. Atop the tower used to be a 3D statue of the Roman god Mercury, but was kncoked off in a windstorm in the 50s. In the mid-90s, a flat Mercury was put in its place. That one was knocked off in the 98 tornado, but was replaced again.

The station became vacant in 1979 after train service was discontinued. It opened as a luxury hotel in March of 1990, and is now a Wyndham hotel.

An architecturally significant train shed used to be located right next to the station, but it's deteriorating condition, plus lack of any conceivable use led to it being demolished a few years ago, which caused Union Station to lose its status as a National Historic Landmark.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Great Falls at Rock Island

Great Falls

At Rock Island State Park, the widest cataract waterfall in TN works it's way over and around bedrock slabs along a 750 foot segment of the Caney Fork River. This is a segment of the area and falls about 20 feet. This view comes from an observation area from the parking lot, however a trail leads below and one can crawl and splash around, depending on the recent rainfall. This was called Horseshoe Falls in the 1800s.

Friday, January 1, 2010

Nashville's 42-foot tall Greek goddess


Athena - a statue years in the making!

Nashville's first Parthenon was built for the Tennessee Centennial Exposition. After the Exposition was finished, the grounds became Centennial Park and the Parthenon remained. That building lasted for a couple of decades. It was so popular that it was decided that a more permanent second Parthenon would be built, and that it should resemble the original as closely as possible.

From these days in the early 1920s, the idea to have a matching as-close-to-the-original-as-possible Athena replica was also begun. From there, it took decades to secure enough private funding. Once enough donations had been gathered, the next step was to determine what the original looked like, since it wasn't around any more. Once that was Settled, sculptor Alan LeQuire was given the task of making the 42-foot replica with a human-sized Nike, a process that by itself took years. Finally a layer of gold was added to all the appropriate places to finalize the statue circa 1990.

Suggested reading: The Parthenon in Nashville