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Saturday, March 31, 2012

Robertson Co. Courthouse before dusk - Springfield, TN

Robertson Co. Courthouse before dusk

The center of the building was constructed in 1879. The clock tower and wings on either side were added in 1930. The exterior of the building went through renovations in 2006.

Friday, March 30, 2012

Fort Donelson #7185 - Dover, TN

Fort Donelson #7185 - Dover, TN

During the Civil War, the Confederacy was vulnerable to warships coming down the Tennessee and Cumberland rivers. Kentucky declared neutrality during the war, so the Confederates looked for a place near the the border where they could defend the river. About a mile north of Dover and about 10 miles downstream along the Cumberland River from the Kentucky Border was the site of this fort. At this location, the river has a lengthy straight path before a bend and the bluffs above the river provided a great location for a battery to shoot down any Union boat that would try to come through. In Feb. 1862, Union General Ulysses S. Grant led troops to capture this fort so that the Union could send ships through here.

When I was in 6th grade, my class visited this spot on the way to an overnight stay at Land Between the Lakes and it's something that has stuck in my mind over two decades later.

Today with a dam upstream, the Cumberland River is also Lake Barkley, but the width of the waterway is about the same as it was during the war. Fort Donelson is under the oversight of the National Park Service and is designated a National Battlefield and on the National Register of Historic Places. The lower batteries have been rebuilt and preserved here. The Upper batteries are also preserved and is located around the bend. The cannon shown here has a date of 1846 etched in the side.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Bruno Gernt Office & Allardt Land Co.

Bruno Gernt Office / Allardt Land Co.

Allardt, TN - Listed on the National Register of Historic Places

In the late 1800s, Gernt and M. H. Allardt founded a community of immigrant Germans in the Upper Cumberland Plateau at about the same time the British were settling nearby (and today the much more famous) Rugby. German land agent Bruno Gernt envisioned a self-sufficient city here. Gernt sold 9,000 acres owned by the Clarke family of Nebraska in parcels of 25,50, and 200 acres at $4 per acre to farmers, miners, and lumbermen.

The town was laid out geometrically and named for Gernt's partner, M. H. Allardt, who died before settlement began. Gernt recruited skilled craftsmen, professionals, and experienced farmers from Germany, and soon Allardt led the region in production of hay, fruits, and vegetables. For more than 50 years, Gernt never ceased his efforts to have the town of Allardt be all he dreamed it could be, and the community prospered for a time. Today, more than a dozen buildings make up the Allardt Historic District.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Davy Crockett Memorial - Limestone, TN

Davy Crockett Memorial

There are Davy Crockett memorials all over the state due to the many places he lived. This one is located in the Davy Crockett Birthplace State Park near Limestone, TN.

The main part of the monument is in the center. It was placed there by the Davy Crockett Historical Society in 1890. Then, the monument was replaced at the Davy Crockett Celebration in Aug, 1965 by the Limestone Ruritan Club.

The front of the monument reads:
Davy Crockett
State Legislator
Martyred at the Alamo

Encircling the Memorial are four curved stone wall segments. Embedded in the walls is a stone from each of the lower 48 states, with the name of the state carved onto it. For instance, Tennessee is the largest one in the middle of the bottom row.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Book Reccommendation: Tennessee Tragedies by Allen R. Coggins

Tennessee Tragedies: Natural, Technological, and Societal Disasters in the Volunteer State

Here is a new book that is hot off the presses!  Earlier today, I posted the post card for the James K. Polk burial site at the state capitol.  His death represents a tragedy.  Despite the fact that he was one of the most powerful people in the civilized world, he died at a young age of the cholera epidemic that swept through the state.  This, and many other maladies to befall our state are chronicled in this recent book published by University of Tennessee Press.  It makes for an interesting read of the state's not so proud past.

(As a side note, in the interest of full disclosure.  My photo of the Polk burial site posted earlier today is in this book on page 16.)

Post Card Tuesday: President Polk's Tomb

This post card dates back to 1904. In the 108 years since then, some things have changed but a few are the same.

President Polk at the time was the youngest ex-president ever. Despite that, after leaving office to settle down, he died of Cholera less than half a year later. For that brief time, he lived at a mansion in downtown Nashville, which became known as Polk Place. Soon after his death, he was interred on the Polk Place grounds, which can be seen in the photo from the 1880's.

Polk's wife Sarah outlived by over another 4 decades at Polk Place. However, after her death in 1891, the future of the home became in disarray. The outcome that few people wanted came true as the property was sold to investors who tore down the mansion in 1900 and built another building here. The president's burial site needed to be relocated, and today is seen upon Capitol Hill.

There are some minor differences between the older view and now.  I suppose the biggest difference is that tree to the right, which has had another century to grow.  There is now also a small wrought iron fence around the monument, which I suppose acts as a deterrent to people walking all over it.  The flower planter in the foreground is gone now, I suppose.

President James K. Polk tomb, Nashville

Monday, March 26, 2012

Springtime at Bicentennial Mall

Springtime at Bicentennial Mall (2006)

This photo was taken 6 years ago. Some of the trees had started to bloom and showed rich color, while others had yet to start. CSX 1111 rolls on through over the bridge at the park. Notice the outline of the state of Tennessee at the bottom? This photo was taken from Capitol Hill where you can get this view of the entire urban state park.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

First Presbyterian Church - Jonesborough, TN

First Presbyterian Church - Jonesborough, TN

The congregation that eventually built this building started as the Hebron Presbyterian Church in 1790. In 1816, the congregation moved to Jonesborough and bought land between 2nd and Washington on the north side of Main St.

This building was built in a Greek Revival style in 1850. Plans for the building were drawn up by a Mr. Clise of nearby Kingsport. The bricks and window shutters were all handmade and are originals.

The original design specified wide outside front steps but female modesty wanted that changed. (One's ankles should not be revealed while wearing a hoop skirt!) While the view is partially obstructed, you won't see steps. The terrace surrounding the steps were enclosed, and they became indoor steps. Thus, the main entrance to the building looks like it is on a second story balcony behind the six columns.

First Presbyterian Church - Jonesborough, TN

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Harvey's Gardens - Winchester, TN

Harvey's Gardens

Not too long ago, a stumbled across this roadside stop on the south side of Winchester. Many of the destinations I go to are places I've planned, researched, found in a book, brochure or the internet. This place caught be completely unaware.

Harvey Templeton had a dream to build a floral park that all could come and enjoy. Unfortunately, Harvey never saw his vision realized. However, starting in 2003, his son and daughter-in-law started this park in his honor. It is a work in progress and has slowly grown over time. The walkways are designated by rocks, and if you pull up the picture in full size, you might be able to see the rocks of the trail continue way off in the distance. I would like to see it in the spring when the flowers are in bloom.

Harvey's Gardens, the Sign at

The parking area is just off highway US41A, south of the Winchester town square and north of the US64 bypass. And no parties!

Friday, March 23, 2012

Hiram Masonic Lodge No. 7 - Franklin, TN

Hiram Masonic Lodge No. 7 - Franklin, TN

Hiram Masonic Lodge No. 7, a Gothic revival building constructed in 1823, is the oldest public building in Franklin, Tennessee. It houses Hiram Lodge No. 7, founded in 1809, and is the oldest Masonic Hall in continuous use in Tennessee. It was the location of the negotiation and signing of the Treaty of Franklin in 1830, in which the Chickasaw Indians sold their lands prior to being moved west to today's Oklahoma. Sitting president Andrew Jackson was a participant, the only time a U.S. President would journey to an Indian council for the purpose of making a treaty. The building was used as a hospital for wounded Union soldiers after the Battle of Franklin, during the American Civil War. It was declared a National Historic Landmark in 1973.

The brick building is three stories tall, five bays wide and five bays deep. The front roof line is gabled in the center, battlemented to either side of the center gable, and surmounted by five obelisk pinnacles. The windows of the first two floors at the front are elongated gothic with 11 lights over eight set in semi-circular indented two-story brick arches. The central windows over the entrance are set in a gothic indented arch of three stories. The windows of the third floor are rectangular, 4 lights over four. Plain rectangular windows are found along the sides and rear of the building--on the first two floors, 12 lights over 16; on the third floor, 8 lights over 8.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

The Big Chicken - Marietta, GA

The Big Chicken

Johnny Reb's was a restaurant in Marietta, GA on highway US41 that decided to stand out from the other places in town, by erecting a 56 foot tall sheet metal chicken in 1956. The top of the chicken is mechanical as the beak opens and closes while the eye spins in circles. A few years after it was built, the restaurant was sold and became a Kentucky Fried Chicken franchise.

Over time, the structure started to fall into disrepair and a tornado damaged it in 1993. There was talk that it might be torn down, or moved to a business in Smyrna, GA. However, the townsfolk rallied to save the local landmark. Today, the chicken and the KFC franchise still thrive, and you can even purchase a couple of souvenirs inside.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Center Hill Dam

Center Hill Dam

On the Caney Fork River. Built in 1949 and operated by the Army Corps of Engineers.

As explained on the plaque: "This is one of a series of dams in the Cumberland River Basin for flood control, power, navigation and water conservation.

Height - 240 ft.
Length - 2,160 ft.
Crest of Spillway - EL.646
Top of dam - El. 696
Resevoir capacity at max pool - 2,092,000 ac.ft.
Reservoir area at max. pool - 23,060 acres
Shore line - 415 miles
concrete - 960,000 Co.yds.
Earth Embankment - 2,600,00 cu.yds.

In January 2007, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers placed Center Hill Dam under a high risk for failure. Highway TN96 also crosses over the top of the dam.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Post Card Tuesday: Davidson County Public Building and Court House

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 PWA-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.

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. Here's how it looks today from the new public square observation tower, using the most similar view readily possible today which is comparable to the post card's "floating in the air a couple blocks away view":

Davidson Co. Courthouse (old) 2: Observation Deck view

Monday, March 19, 2012

Temperance Hall - Harriman, TN

Temperance Hall - Harriman, TN

This Romanesque building was built in 1890 to be the office of the East Tennessee Land Company.

Soon afterward, it took on a more prominent use as the main building at American Temperance University. I suppose in this day and age it's hard to imagine an entire school and city built around the idea of Alcohol Prohibition. According to the historical marker, Harriman was incorporated to be the ideal industrial city, one where one could expect to find thrift, sobriety, superior intelligence and exalted moral character, where workers would be uncorrupted by Demon Rum. The city is named after Union General (this part of the state leaned pro-Union) Walter Harriman, former governor of New Hampshire.

The idea didn't stick and the University ceased 15 years later. (The city remained dry until 1994!) Today, this building serves as City Hall and a local museum. There are stories that this place is haunted, but as you might expect, all the ghosts act in a manner of sobriety and exalted moral character. The building is also listed on the National Register of Historic Places under the name Harriman City Hall.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

The Original Grave Cairn of Meriwether Lewis

The Original Grave Cairn of Meriwether Lewis

Explorer Meriwether Lewis of Lewis & Clark fame is buried near the place where he died. Here is the monument as it appears today. A cairn is a mound or pile of stones built as a monument.

What you see here is the stone cairn that covered his grave for over 150 years. The state built the monument in 1848 and new cut stones replaced these in 2000.

The city of Hohenwald is the county seat of Lewis County, named in his honor. Under the oversight of the Lewis County Museum of Natural History is an outdoor park known as the Discovery Trail. These stones were relocated here and are the highlight of that trail. Plans are being made to add a Lewis Statue at some point.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

New Gallery: 200 Random Photos of Nashville

I have put up a new Extended Gallery on SeeMidTN.com, entitled Random Photos of Nashville (Part 1). After having taken photos all around town for many years now, there's a bunch of photos that need to be out and about. Now, these photos either have some kind of photographic flaw, or maybe I felt they didn't have a broad enough audience to include in my main online Flickr collection. Instead of collecting more dust, I thought that maybe someone might enjoy some of these other pictures. This and subsequent Nashville sets will have up to 200 photos in them.

My eventual goal is to have 10,000 photos online. Now, not all of these 10,000 will be of Nashville, but I felt it's the best place to start. I'm already 2% closer to the goal! By the time you read this, there may be more, a 2nd or 3rd set.

GT 5848 Locomotive crosses 1st St.

GT 5848 Locomotive crosses 1st St.

1st St. is the main road through the heart of town in Union City, TN. Grand Trunk Western was bought out by CN, but you still see their trains in various places. Union City for many years was served by Illinois Central, (which is the second locomotive here) and they are now also run by CN.

On this particular day, I saw this pair of GT and IC pull various train cars back and forth through town during the hour I was walking around. Then by the time I was driving south, I passed the same crew.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Blue Circle Hamburgers - Knoxville, TN

Blue Circle Hamburgers - Knoxville, TN

I assumed this is Blue Circle Hamburgers, which used to be a chain in east TN, but all but one of them are now gone. In downtown Knoxville, this entire side of the block was under construction on the day this photo was taken in late 2010, but the sign for a vacant business remained.

A little insight was provided in the comments by a couple of Knoxvillians:

"Johnny's Diner on Wall Ave. If I remember correctly Johnny cooked here for Blue Circle for years and then bought this place from the company. I ate many breakfasts here thirty years ago."

"Here is a little company history.
www.restaurantwarecollectors.com/forums/showt hread.php?t=...
This one was independent when I was a regular there in the early 80's. It was the kind of place where Johnny would see you coming up the sidewalk and have your eggs on the grill and the waitress would have your mug of coffee at your space at the counter before you got in the door."

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Cumberland Co. Courthouse - Crossville, TN

Cumberland Co. Courthouse 1

Located in Crossville, TN, this courthouse was built in 1905 to replace the older courthouse located across the street. The older courthouse was damaged but not completely destroyed by a fire. The damage was severe enough that a new courthouse was needed, but the old courthouse was repaired and is now used as a military museum.

The building, like many in the area, is construced using the distinctive local Crab Orchard Stone.. This stone is a rare sandstone from nearby Crab Orcahrd Mountain and is noted for it's color streaks and differing shades of brown.

The courthouse cost $23,000 to build in 1905. It's two stories and has a monumental entrance consisting of dual arches, large 2nd story windows and a stepped gable.

Around the rest of the exterior on the first floor is a strongly articulated horizontal stone course, whereas the second floor has a smooth aslar finish. Atop the courthouse is an elaborate clock tower in the center of the roof. At each corner of the building are slightly lowered projecting octagonal bays.

Although there are several unusual features, this courthouse is similar to the now gone Lawrence County Courthouse which was also built in 1905. The courthouses are also listed on the National register of Historic Places.

About a year ago, in April 2008, the lawn of the courthouse was newsworthy. The county had established this area as a free speech zone, which prompted people leaving permanent displays there. The county was fine with this until they received many complaints of a statue of the Flying Spagetti Monster, and they announced that all displays had to be taken down. The full story is here.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Palace Theater - Maryville, TN

Palace Theater - Maryville, TN

along with the Capitol Theater a few doors down, it's one of two vintage theaters along the main business strip in Maryville, TN.


Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Post Card Tuesday: Stones River Battlefield US Soldier Monument

The Stones River National Battlefield is a park in Murfreesboro, TN along the Stones River in Rutherford County, TN. The park commemorates the Civil War battle that took place here on Dec. 31, 1862 and Jan. 2, 1863. The park was established using public and private funds, with significant help from the NCStL railway, and is now under the oversight of the U.S. National Park Service.

As you can tell by the rows of grave markers, this is in the battlefield Cemetery. The plaque on it labels it as the Union Soldier Monument.

SRNB: US Soldier Monument

Monday, March 12, 2012

Hunter-Preston Farmhouse

Hunter-Preston Farmhouse

This farm was part on the 2,560 acre Thomas Benton plantaion which was sold in 1821 to Samuel Cummins, and was then sold to Dr. George B.Hunter in 1865. In 1902, this house was built in a Queen Anne style using Sears and roebuck hardware, woodwork and mantels. JT Morton purchased the 500 acre farm in 1907 for $13,500. The Blackburn family operated a dairy farm for 30 years. In 1999, the Preston family granted a conservation easement to the Land Trust of Tennessee.

This is stop #18 on the TNTrailsandByways.com "Old TN Trail"

Here is the historical marker:

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Old Texaco Ad barn

Old Texaco Ad barn

This is quiate an old, faded advertisement mounted on a barn near Dickson, TN. This as was meant to reach westbound travelers on Interstate 40 before exit 172. Alas, this is quite a busy area today and the Texaco appears to be no more.

If you can't read it, it has the Texaco logo at top. the next line, which has been partially covered up to keep the tractors from being exposed to the elements has GROC NEXT EXIT BEER

As I was driving down I-40, I wondered if I saw this the way I thought I did out of the corner of my eye, and I spent the next 30 minutes hunting down this barn.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Sea anemones

Sea anemones

The Sea Anemone is usually not something you think of as an animal, much less would you think of them as animals you would look for at the zoo. They are indeed an animal, albeit one of the least intelligent ones, down at the bottom of the bioligists chart with the sponges. They live by hoping prey will happen to swim by, which can be stung by the tentacles, which will paralize the prey with a toxin with the hopes that it will then proceed directly into the mouth.

Instead of renting expensive scuba gear and underwater camera equipment, I went to the Nashville Zoo at Grassmere inside the building. While you may have never noticed them before, the Sea Anemones are there with the fish, snakes, and amphibians.

Friday, March 9, 2012

Roxy Theater at Dusk - Clarksville, TN

Roxy Theater at Dusk - Clarksville, TN

On the corner of Franklin and First in Downtown Clarksville, the Lillian Theater was built in 1912. It burned down in 1913 and was rebuilt. It burned down again in 1945 and the was rebuilt again, this time as the Roxy theater.

It showed first run movies until 1980 and then ever since 1983 has been used as a popular live theater.

The Art Deco theater was also the backdrop of the music video "All I wanna Do" by Sheryl Crow in the mid 90's.

For more info, see:

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Incline Railroad - out of service

Incline Railroad - out of service

I am not sure if this is kept for posterity, or if someone is working to restore it. I am not even sure how old it is, but the photo was taken 7 years ago. This used to be part of Lookout Mountain's Incline Railroad train car. This is now kept at the Tennessee Valley Railroad museum, at the "East Chattanooga" station with the other traincars that need repair.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Beaman Motors Neon Sign

Beaman Motors Neon Sign (2012)

For decades, this sign was on Broadway (US 431/70S) in Nashville, with the vertical part reading Pontiac. The sign was taken down a year ago last March for several reasons. As they refurbished the sign, they updated it since they're more than just a Pontiac dealer now. They also wanted the sign to be visible from Interstate 40, so it has been newly positioned along another side of their property. The Beaman name is well known in Nashville.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Post Card Tuesday: Williamson County Courthouse

Williamson County's first two courthouses (one log and the second of brick) were located in the center of Franklin's town square. This one is the third, completed in 1858 at a cost of $20,000. There are about 7 antebellum courthouses still in use in Tennessee.

The Four iron columns were strip-mined from deposits along the Caney Fork Creek, smelted in nearby Fernvale and cast at a Franklin foundry. The brick walls are 24 inches thick and the doors are of quarter inch sheets of wrought iron

During the Civil War, it served as the federal headquarters. Then, after the Battle of Franklin it served as a hospital.

In 1880, a lynch mob hung a man from the railing of the second floor balcony while forcibly restraining the judge and sheriff.

The interior was remodeled in 1937, 1964 and 1976. An annex was added in 1976. A photo of the building from the mid 1970's shows the entire exterior was painted white just like in the post card from a few decades earlier, although I'm not sure when that was first done, or when the original brick was restored. Today, the building is on the National Register of Historic Places.

In the center of the town square today is a confederate statue and four cannons, one at each corner.

Williamson County Courthouse

Monday, March 5, 2012

Hickman Tavern / Dandridge, TN Town Hall

Hickman Tavern / Dandridge, TN Town Hall

This brick building in a Federal Style was built ca. 1820. The highlight is an interior circular staircase which winds up to the third floor. The building was originally owned by the Fain family and later by James Hickman who built the county courthouse. Today it is the city hall.

In the background, you can see the levee which was built to prevent Dougas Lake from flooding the historic city center.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Things that are now gone: Monteagle Motel

Monteagle Motel

Dreaded power lines!

Upon the mountain in Monteagle. Located on U.S. Highway 41, which used to be the Dixie Highway.

This photo was taken in 2006. At some point between then and 2012, the motel and the sign were taken down and this property is now a drug store.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Old Tennessee State Prison

Old Tennessee State Prison version B

This interesting building was built in 1898 and was modeled after the fortress-like structure in Auburn, NY. The main building in the front and center is an administration building. The prison has 800 cells and was built for a cost of $500,000. Due to deterioration, it was closed in 1992 to coincide with the opeing of Riverbend prison.

Since it's closing, it's been a popular spot for films ranging from Ernest Goes to Jail to The Green Mile.

I've seen post cards of this place from the 1910s and 20s. It seems like an odd thing to make a post card for. What are you going to say? Wish you were here!

I've heard it's also a popular place for ghost tours. At the same time the interior is quite unsafe. I've heard reports of security keeping people from getting close to the building, bit nobody was on duty the day I was here. To the right of the prison is the Cumberland River and to the left and behind it is Briley Pkwy.

To see my other views of the outside of the prison, look here.

Friday, March 2, 2012

Vintage Cowan, TN Texaco

Vintage Cowan, TN Texaco

the local vinatge gas station has been preserved and now is used as a museum and tourist welcome center. This station is located near the important transportation intersection of highway US 41A before the ascent to Sewanee and the CSX train line before it begins its ascent to the Cumberland Mtn Tunnel.

The station still has three gas pumps, one for sky cheif and 2 for fire chief. In the service station, the museum has a 1936 Ford and a 1950 Ford.

Cowan has also preserved one of it's old fire engines that still gets the job when the call comes in.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Rainbow Autel (motel) Restored Sign

Rainbow Autel (motel) sign

By the looks of it, this classic motel sign looks like it is about to be picked up and mounted at this same storage facility. The Rainbow Autel was about 25 miles up the road in Chilhowie, VA along the Lee Highway. I'd never heard the term Autel before - It sounds like a foreign word. In reality Autel = Auto Hotel the same way Motel = Motor Hotel, but the term didn't have staying power.

Here's a story on the refurbishing of the sign, and the storage facility along US11 with a bunch of neat old things: