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.

Grand Central Market about 1948 photo credit Jim Webb