Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Grand Central Market, Northeast Nashville

I saw a notice this morning that the Piggly Wiggly Store at 921 North First along with the adjacent lots at 917 and 907 has been sold to developers by owners Gallatin Food Valu. I know they call it Dickerson now, but I am old and sticking with what I know.

921 North First Street, Metro Nashville Assessor, ca 2016

Those who lived in the neighborhood in the 1940's and 50's remember the store as Grand Central Market.  Bertie C. Webb, was a local real estate developer He purchased the three parcels now numbered 907, 917 and 921, separately between in 1939 and 1946. Webb had been in the grocery business since he moved to Nashville as a young man  Soon after buying the first lot, Webb opened Grand Central Fruit Market, managed by John Dorris.  After he bought the third tract in 1946, Webb built a new fully stocked grocery store and kept the Grand Central name. John Dorris continued as manager.  Grand Central Food Market was a traditional neighborhood grocery on a larger scale. Groceries were sold for cash or credit. It was said to have the first self serve meat counter in a Nashville grocery store. Mr. Webb entered into a partnership with his son James Webb and together they developed a grocery store chain that at one time owned 20 stores. In the mid 1960's Webb sold the Grand Central Market to Jerry Rittenberry. It was renamed as Jerry's Bi-Rite.

Old Grand Central Market building, 921 North First Street, Metro Nashville Assessor, ca 1980

  There has been a grocery store in the building for over 70 years. Mr. Webb died in 1973, at his home at 912 Joseph Avenue in Northeast Nashville, very near the old Grand Central location. At his death Mr. Webb and his family still owned much of the real estate purchased by him and other family members, over the years.  In 1992, Webb family descendants incorporated as Gallatin Food Valu.  The Grand Central, North First Street property was  quit claimed by the Webb family, to the new business.

An interesting note about this self contained neighborhood in 1947, where one could find most anything one needed, close to home.  On North First Street from Hancock to Evanston, there were four gas stations, four restaurants, three groceries, a dry cleaner, a barber, a drug store, and Last Chance Liquors (still going in 2017).  Many of the other lots along those blocks contained residences in 1947.

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Frank Sutton, East Nashville.

Frank Spencer Sutton, better known to most as Sergeant Carter, from the Gomer Pyle televisions series, lived in and did most of his growing up in East Nashville.   

Stock photo, 1965

Sutton was born in Clarksville TN on October 23, 1923, to Frank Sims Sutton and Thelma Spencer Sutton.  Sutton's father worked for a local newspaper in Clarksville.  In a 1968 interview with Tennessean Staff Writer Jim Andrews, Frank Sutton said that because of his father's bad temper, the family moved around a lot, when he was a small child.  His father didn't stay with a job very long, moving his family to Evansville, Ind., Elkton, Ky., Paris Tn. and finally to Nashville in the mid-1930's. His father had taken a job at the Tennessean as a linotype operator. They moved into an apartment house at 940 Russell Street.  The family attended Tulip Street Methodist Church.  Frank became an active member and acted as the scribe of Boy Scout Troop 34, which met at the Tulip Street Church. He very likely attended Warner School, located a few blocks from the family's home.  

The Tennessean, September 30, 1984

In the fall of 1937, Frank entered the 8th grade at the brand new East Nashville Junior High School.  It was at East Junior where Frank caught the acting bug.  In an interview about his teen years in Nashville, Sutton recalled that his first role was at East Junior in the play, Romance in a Boarding House. In March of 1938, Frank's father died suddenly. Frank and his mother continued to live at 940 Russell Street.  His mother went to work at The Tennessean as a proofreader. 

Public high schools in Nashville started with the 10th grade back in those days. Frank was a sophomore at the beginning of the school year in the fall of 1939 when he entered East High School. He tried out for the football team and was injured in the first scrimmage of the season.  In November he was back in the game and it was reported in the newspaper, that he "gave a commendable performance."    Frank joined the Spanish Club.

Spanish Club, East Nashville High School, Frank Sutton front row, 4th from left side.

By the middle of his sophomore year, Frank was involved with the drama club at East High.  He landed a role in the play, The Life of Mary Kellar.  He also appeared in the East High production of, The Valiant.

The Tennessean, September 14, 1939
In the fall of 1940, Frank, now a high school junior, became a member of the Delta chapter of Phi Alpha Pi, a high school fraternity.  Though frowned on by administrators, high school fraternities and sororities were very popular in the 1930's and 40's.  The fraternity held a winter banquet and dance for members at the Hermitage Hotel.  Frank Sutton attended with his date, Miss Amelia Whitsitt of East Nashville.  In December Frank had a role in, You Can't Take It With You. The play was presented by the drama club under the direction of Miss Carolyn Binkley. In the spring semester, Frank began acting with the Community Playhouse, appearing in The Pursuit of Happiness and Toad of Toad Hall. In June just after the end of the school year, Frank was cast in a play called Male Animal.  Another cast member was Miss Ophelia Colley, who would later marry Henry Cannon and become known the world over as Minnie Pearl.

The Tennessean, December 6, 1940

During the summer of 1941, Frank and his mother left the apartment at 940 Russell Street, where they had lived for seven years. Frank lived on Russell Street for a longer time than he had lived anywhere in his young life.  The Suttons took an apartment in a building at 101 19th Avenue South, the corner of 19th and West End. Frank began his senior year of high school at Peabody Demonstration School.  Frank continued his acting career starring a number of plays with the Children's Theater and the Community Playhouse, as well as the Peabody Players.  Some of his fellow cast members during his senior year were Bettie Page, who would become known as the "Queen of Pinups," and Delbert Mann, who would become a widely known, stage, television, and movie director and producer.  Frank was a member of the yearbook staff and co-editor of the Volunteer, the student newspaper at Peabody Demonstration School.  

Frank graduated from Peabody Demonstration School in the spring of 1942.  He continued to act in local theater.  He had a radio show on Saturday mornings on WSIX, where he played multiple roles of the announcer, Philip the Frog, The Wise Old Owl, Miss Forsynthia, and Teaberry.  In a 1964 interview Frank said that after graduation from high school, he briefly went to work for Neuhoff Packing Company. He said that he also worked for a short time as a radio announcer in Clarksville.
Sutton had tried to join both the Marines and the Navy.  They turned him down because he was color blind.  In March of 1943, Frank was inducted into the Army, where he served in the Signal Corp.  A website called army together we served, gave details of his service.  

"He was assigned to a Joint Assault Signal Company (JASCO), composed of Army and Navy men. Within 18 months he took part in 14 landings in the Pacific, including Leyte, Luzon, Bataan and Corregidor. When the war ended, he was sent to join the occupation forces in Korea, where he wrote, directed and produced ''The Military Government Hour,'' a radio propaganda program."

Sergeant Frank Sutton returned to Nashville on his discharge from the Army in January of 1946.  He jumped back on the stage his first month home. He was cast as Nick, in The Time of Your Life. The play opened on February 4, at the Community Playhouse, after a couple of weeks of rehearsal. From January until September Frank continued to act, and design and build sets for community playhouse.  In the fall of 1946, Frank enrolled at Columbia University to study dramatics and speech.  He came home for the summer of 1947 and once again took to the stage with Community Playhouse in a summer production of, Love for Love.  Frank returned to Columbia University in New York in the fall.  Frank spent the summers of 1948 and 1949 with John Kenley's Deer Lake Theater Company. It was also in 1948 that Frank played his first role in television.  In August of 1949, he was married to Toby Igler. The couple met at Columbia University.

Frank returned to the stage in Nashville, in December of 1949.  John Kenley's Deer Lake Theater Company brought to the stage of the Ryman Auditorium, a production of The Barrett's of Wimpole Street. Frank played the role of Dr. Chambers.

The Leaf-Chronicle, October 27, 2015

In October of 1950, Frank landed a role in the Nash Airflyte Theater television production of, O. Henry. The show was broadcast from New York on the CBS network. Frank and Toby lived in New York and he continued to act on the stage and in television.  In 1955 Frank was cast, by his friend and former Nashvillian Delbert Mann, in the Academy-Award winning movie, Marty. Frank played many television and movie roles, including a long run in 1959, in a soap opera, The Secret Storm.  In 1961, he was in a leading role in the movie, Town Without Pity. In 1964, Frank and family moved to Hollywood, where he was to have a supporting role in a new television show, Gomer Pyle, USMC, starring Jim Nabors.  Frank took the character of Sergeant Vince Carter and made it his own.  Sergeant Carter's role in the show moved from being supportive to being a starring role, equal to Nabors.

Frank Sutton spent his life as an actor, beginning his career on the stage at East Nashville Junior High and continuing on Broadway, in Hollywood, and around the world.  Frank died of a heart attack, on June 28, 1974, in Shreveport, Louisiana, at the Beverly Barn Theater.  He was just moments away from going on stage. Earlier in the week, he had told a co-star, that "if an actor has to die, a theater is the place for him to die." Frank was survived by his wife Toby, his children Joey and Amanda, and his mother and stepfather, Thelma and L. B. Shepard.

The information in the story was compiled from many news articles published in the Tennessean and other newspapers. 

The military information came from this website.


Saturday, March 11, 2017

Nashville's Great Snow, March 17 and 18, 1892

The Daily American, March 19, 1892

Nashville awakened this morning, March 11, 2017 to a sweet spring snow. Snow is no stranger to Nashville in March. Nashville weather records reveal that three of the top ten largest snows were in March. The largest one day total was on March 17, 1892 when 17 inches of snow fell. On March 18, there was an additional 4.5 inches of snow. Mark Rose of the National Weather Service tells the biggest weather story of that winter.

St. Patrick’s Day Snowstorm of 1892
Mark A. Rose
National Weather Service
Old Hickory, Tennessee

The winter of 1891-92 was almost one with no snowfall. Through March 14, a mere 0.3 inches of snowfall had been measured in Nashville, and it appeared that winter was over.1,2 There had been several days early in March with temperatures in the 60’s, and the thermometer had climbed to 70 degrees on the 4th.2 Sometime on March 13, a strong cold front swept through the region, dunking Nashville’s high temperature from 65 degrees on the 13th to 40 degrees the next day.2 Then, on the 15th, Nashville received a 4.2-inch snowfall — the largest by far of the season thus far.2 Much of this snow likely melted the next day, as the temperature rose to 39 degrees, and it appeared that a warming trend was underway.2 But this was not to be the case.

On St. Patrick’s Day, March 17, Nashville received the largest snowfall in its history — 17 inches — a record which still stands today. The snow began around 6:00 p.m. the previous evening.3 Very little accumulated until after midnight.2 The snow continued into the afternoon.3

Said a Nashville Banner article, which appeared on page eight on the day of the snowstorm, There has been much complaining, but there is consolation in the fact that the same snow that makes walking disagreeable, is enriching the wheat, fertilizing the land, and holding back the fruit until danger of frost is past. Over these things the farmers rejoice.

Nashville’s street cars had been “snowed under,” and did not run.3 Suburban workers had to walk to town.3 Morning trains were delayed.3 And the “arteries of trade” were clogged.3 Mailmen didn’t leave the post office on their rounds until 10:00 a.m.3 Many letters weren’t delivered until late afternoon.4 A freight train from Chattanooga ran upon a freight engine, derailing two cars, at the Winton community (near Murfreesboro), and did not get in until noon.3 A passenger train from Memphis due at 7:00 a.m. did not arrived until 2:00 p.m.3 And members of the Ancient Order of Hibernians in America canceled their annual parade.4

The Nashville Banner that day contained the following anecdotes: In the city the snow seems to be taken good-naturedly. A real estate dealer on Union street has “For Sale” on a huge pile of snow in front of his door, and all about town the snowdrifts along the sidewalks are labeled with such legends as, “Keep Off the Grass,” “Don’t Pluck the Roses,” “The Sunny South,” “Beautiful Spring,” “Come Into the Garden, Maud,” “Mosquito Bars Made Cheap,” “Linen Dusters at Half Cost,” “In Memory of Dixie That is Froze,” and “Where Are the Violets You Promised?”

In addition, the following conversation took place over the Associated Press wire:
Memphis Operator – The snow here is four feet deep.
Cincinnati – You mean inches, don’t you?
Memphis – No, it is up to a man’s knee.

So the winter that almost wasn’t concluded with 21.8 inches of snowfall, and with 21.5 inches of that accumulating in a single month, March of 1892 remains the snowiest month in Nashville’s history.1 The record 17-inch snowfall has been challenged only once. On February 20-21, 1929, Nashville accumulated 15 inches of snow during a remarkable 13-hour period spanning two calendar days.5 The next largest snowfall on record is 9.8 inches, which occurred on February 3, 1886.5
1 National Weather Service. Nashville Monthly Snowfall Table.
2 National Weather Service. Monthly Climate Summary for Nashville, Tennessee for March, 1892.
3 The Beautiful Snow. Nashville Banner. March 17, 1892.
4 O’Donnell, Red. Nashvillians made light of 16-inch snow in ’92. Nashville Banner. March 16, 1982.
5 National Weather Service. One-Day Snowfall Totals of at Least 6″ at Nashville.

Mark Rose, I hope you won't mind my copying your story here.  I am afraid it will disappear from the weather service website.  

Friday, March 10, 2017

Hayden and Brown Sanitarium

Found a photo on the internet the other day that was labeled Hayden and Brown Sanitarium.  The image was attributed to the Nashville Public Library. 

The photo that started the search. 1400 Broadway, Nashville Public Library.

The text under the photo said that the sanitarium was originally in East Nashville.  Any reference to East Nashville always piques my interest, so I was off on the hunt.  Drs. E. Forest Hayden and Daniel R. Brown opened a sanitarium in 1906 at the corner of Lischey Avenue at Marshall Avenue in Northeast Nashville.  

Southern Practitione, Volume 28. 1906
 They were located in a two story Queen Anne mansion, the former home of Judge John T. Allen.  The purpose of the facility was the "treatment of alcohol and drug addictions and diseases of the nervous systems." 

Hayden and Brown Sanitarium was located in this house on Lischey Avenue in 1906-1907

By September of 1907, the pair had moved the sanitarium to the former home of Dr. W. F. Gray, at 1400 Broadway.  The building had been remodeled and enlarged in 1906, under the guidance of local architect, Thomas S. Marr.  

Nashville City Directory, 1908.

1400 Broadway, Hayden and Brown Sanitarium.

 In 1909, Dr. M. R. Farrar, of North Carolina, purchased the interest of Dr. Hayden and the sanitarium was renamed Farrar and Brown Sanitarium. In 1910, still located at 1400 Broadway, Farrar and Brown dissolved the partnership. It was stated that Dr. Brown would take over the entire business and continue as before.  A notice in the Tennessean announced a name change to  Cumberland Sanitarium, with Dr. Brown named as medical director.  There did not seem to be any connection to Cumberland Sanitarium in Lebanon, Tennessee.  After 1911, Cumberland Sanitarium and Dr. Daniel Brown, disappear from Nashville.

A friend, Ronnie Ragan, read this story and picked up the trail of Dr. Brown and Cumberland Sanitarium, where I left off.  Ronnie is a kindred spirit, when it comes to local history.  The information he found is below.

Dr. Brown was enumerated twice on the 1910 census.  Following the dissolution of his partnership with Dr. Farrar, Brown is living at his sanitarium on Broadway in April of 1910.  He, likewise, resides with a Mr. Flavius J. Sanders Jr. of 439 Greenwood in Lebanon, Tennessee, where he is enumerated in May of 1910.  According to the census, Brown and Sanders are partners.
Mr. Sanders was the manager of Cumberland Sanitarium in Lebanon.  His former partner Dr. Power Gribble founded the sanitarium in 1905, under the name Cedarcroft Sanitarium.  Both Farrar and Brown in Nashville and Gribble and Sanders in Lebanon dissolve their partnerships in 1910.  The thirty-five patient facility in Lebanon and the sixteen patient facility in Nashville are then renamed Cumberland Sanitarium.  Dr. D. R. Brown is listed as the medical director of both sanitarium's in Polk?s Medical Register of 1910.    
Just how long Dr. Brown worked in both locations is unknown, but by 1911, he had moved the Nashville sanitarium from 1400 Broadway to 32 Rutledge, near Peabody College.  The new location had rooms for twelve patients.
Although Cumberland Sanitarium and Brown are listed at the Rutledge address in both the 1911 and 1912 city directories, it appears the Nashville sanitarium closed by the end of 1911 and Dr. Brown had moved to Memphis.  An advertisement for boarders, at 32 Rutledge, runs in the Tennessean in January of 1912 and, on November 28, 1912, Dr. Brown marries Miss Margaret Gertrude Townsend of Memphis. 
By 1916, Cumberland Sanitarium and Dr. Daniel R. Brown are in business, once again.  He has opened his sanitarium at 692 Alabama in Memphis.  The former home of James Sanitarium, which had relocated.  Memphis city directories show the sanitarium was in operation from 1916 to 1921, when Cumberland appears to have closed for good.  
The city directory of 1925 lists the 42 year old Dr. Brown as strictly a physician.  In April of that year, his 29 year old wife dies of brain cancer.  Dr. Brown lived another fourteen years, dying in his home state of Alabama on November 24, 1939.  He was 56 years old and left behind a 29 year old widow and two children under the age of ten.  
Cumberland Sanitarium of Lebanon burned to the ground on January 9, 1916.  It?s owner, F. J. Sanders, died November 12, 1960 at the age of 84.
After Dr. Gribble dissolved his partnership with F. J. Sanders in 1910, he moved to Nashville and reopened Cedarcroft Sanitarium on Murfreesboro Road.  Ironically, in June 1917 the following appeared in the Tennessean:  “DR. POWER GRIBBLE Announces the removal of his Sanitarium from the old Nashville Sanitarium property to 1400 Broadway.”  The move was temporary, however, as their final location at 1519 McGavock was ready to move into by November.  Dr. Gribble died there of liver and stomach cancer on October 10, 1927, age 53.

In addition to the above, below are some of the main newspapers searched:
The Tennessean June 24, 1910
The Tennessean January 7, 1912
The Tennessean January 9, 1916
The Tennessean January 10, 1916
The Tennessean October 11, 1927
The Tennessean November 14, 1960

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Fairfield, Home of William B. Lewis

St. Margaret's Hospital, Artwork of Nashville

St. Margaret's Hospital, Artwork of Nashville, 1894. Metro Nashville Archives

When I came across this wonderful photo, I wanted to know more about St. Margaret's Hospital and the building, as well. It was relatively easy to find information on St. Margaret's Hospital and the location.  It was a Catholic Hospital near the intersection of Green Street and Decatur Avenue, near today's Hermitage Avenue.  I also found out that before St. Margaret's, the building was used as the City Hospital, operated by the Medical Department of the University of Nashville.  I found this great plat which showed the exact location.  You will find more about St Margaret's below. 

Davidson County Deed Book 97, page 212
Roads have been renamed and others have disappeared from the modern landscape, since this plat was drawn. Lebanon Road, on the plat, to the north of the house, is now called Hermitage Avenue.  Hermitage Avenue, to the south on the plat, seemed to have run along, what was later Fain Street. 

The building, appeared to be a house.  I wanted to know who built it, and who lived there, and when, and what happened to it?  As I found each clue for the house, I was led down a crooked path, that led me to a story of one of Nashville's well known early families.  What I thought would be a brief project, turned into weeks of research, and a great history lesson for me. Learning about the various members of the Lewis family and their very interesting lives, pulled me in.  I plan to blog about the Lewis family at a later date.

The house was called Fairfield and it was the home of William Berkley Lewis.  William B. Lewis moved to  the property in 1813, when he married Margaret Lewis, daughter of William Terrell Lewis.   William B. Lewis died in 1866 and had lived at Fairfield for 53 years.

Republican Banner, November 14, 1866

That the home in the photo was the "old Lewis place," is not in doubt.  It was referred to as such, time after time, in news articles.  The house is of Second Empire architectural style.  Second Empire was popular in the United States 1855-1885 and is rarely seen in the south.  I read that many older houses were remodeled in this style, with a mansard roof added to a house that once had a pitched roof.  

What is in question, is exactly when the Second Empire features were added to the house.  Whether this house was new construction or an addition or remodel of an older house is not known.  It is possible that the structure was constructed or modified, between 1855 and 1862, by William B. Lewis. With his frequent visits to Washington, DC, Lewis would have been familiar with the Second Empire style.  He may have been influenced by his grandson, Andrew, who had lived both in France and the United States.  Once the war reached Nashville, it is doubtful that such a project would have occurred.  It may also be that the house was changed with a remodel, many years later.

If you examine the photo, there appears to be an older, smaller house attached at the right side.  It has also been modified with a mansard roof added.  This may have been the original house at Fairfield.  There is a small structure with a tall chimney, just to the right of the smaller house. The oddly tall chimney suggests a furnace, maybe to dispose of medical waste, from the hospital.

A closeup of the original photo of St. Margaret's showing the attached house.

In 1862, Lewis deeded his residence and about 180 acres to his son-in-law and daughter, Alphonse and Mary Ann Lewis Pageot. He reserved the right to live in the house, for his lifetime.  The couple had been living in France for many years.  It is not know when they last visited the United States.  The son of Alphonse and Mary Ann, Andrew Jackson Pagoet, was living with his grandfather at Fairfield during the civil war.  He died there, on the 9th of January, 1865.   William B Lewis died the next year, in November of 1866.  The daughter, Mary Ann Lewis Pagoet, died in France, also in November of 1866, a few days after her father.

The house was in limbo, after William B. Lewis and Mary Ann Lewis Pagoet died.  For the next 15 years, it was the property of  Alphonse Joseph Pageot, widower of Mary Ann.   Pageot named Godfrey Fogg and A. V. S. Lindsley, to act as his attorneys, regarding the house and land in Nashville.  Fogg and Lindsley managed to sell some of the land. The house was offered for sale , in 1867, and in 1874, without success. The house, and 128 acres, had not been sold by the time of the death of Pagoet in about 1880.  A suit was filed by Pagoet heirs, in Davidson Chancery Court in 1881, forcing the sale of the house and remaining land, in 1882.

The Daily American, May 3, 1882

The next owners, A. C. and William Kidd, purchased the house at auction, in May of 1882.  They received a deed to the the property, in December of 1883, from Joseph Wrenne, Clerk and Master of the Chancery Court.  A. C. Kidd deeded his interest to William Kidd, also in December, 1883. A news article stated, that Mr. Kidd had remodeled and enlarged the house.  It is possible that William Kidd was the one to add the Second Empire features to the house.  On April 25, 1884, William Kidd, sold the house and 128 acres to W. M. Duncan, Samuel Keith, Edgar Jones, and John M Bass.

In November of 1886, Duncan, Keith, Jones and Bass, sold to the Medical Department of the University of Nashville, the house and a small tract of land. Security was given by several professors of the university, Duncan Eve, W. D. Haggard, W. F Glenn and others.  The City Hospital opened in the old Lewis home place soon after.  The article below, mentions the room that was Andrew Jackson's favorite.  Jackson was a frequent visitor to the house.

Daily American, November 14, 1886

The news stories about the hospital lead me to believe that a part of the house is much older than the structure, shown in the photo.  The City Hospital operated in the Lewis house until 1890, when a new City Hospital was opened on what is now Hermitage Avenue, at Rolling Mill Hill.

In 1891, Bishop Rademacher purchased the Lewis house with the intent to open a Catholic Hospital. Within months, St. Margaret's Hospital was operating in the Lewis house, under the care of Sister of Charity.  All patients were accepted into St. Margaret's regardless of ability to pay.  Person of any faith were also welcome there.  The hospital did not last.  In December of 1894, it was announced that the hospital would close, and the Sisters would return to the mother house in Lafayette, Indiana. 
Nashville Republican, Dec 22, 1894_

The building was deeded by Bishop Byrne, to the Sister's of Mercy, in 1894.  The St. Bernard Academy was moved to the Lewis house, in 1895.  St. Bernards founded in 1866, is still educating Nashville's children, today.  The Sister's found the distance from the city to be a challenge.  By the fall of 1896, the academy was moved to North Vine Street.  It is not known, what or if anything occupied the old house after 1896.   

The Nashville American, February 19, 1896

It was owned by the Sister's of Mercy until 1903, when it was deeded to the City of Nashville.  In the spring of 1905 the house was demolished. 

The Tennessean, April 11, 1905

On the site of the old Lewis home, the James F. Lipscomb School was built and opened in the fall of 1906.  

 Lipscomb School, 1908 Hopkins Atlas of Nashville

 In August of 1960, the city council voted to transfer the Lipscomb School property, at 130 Green Street, to the State of Tennessee for right of way for the interstate system.  

James F. Lipscomb School, 130 Green Street, 1906-1960.  Metro Nashville Archives, City Property Photos, 1949.

The map below is a Google satellite image of the area where Fairfield stood.  A red X marks indicates the approximate location of the old house.

Image from Google maps.