Monthly Archives: July 2016

Back of the Theater

This is the back of 119 – 121 Commerce Street as it looks today.  The upper door and balcony give away what it used to be: a movie theater.  It got hot in that projection room and this gave the person running the movie a way got get some relief and, probably in those days, a smoke.  I think the balcony is still in the back of the old State Theater building, too.   (later: I checked behind the old Strand Theater…no balcony there.)

This was the Center Theater.  It existed for about seven years, closing in 1955.

I note that there are three good door crops here and one that’s messed up with the power lines. Old doors can be good subjects.  They don’t move around a lot and there’s always a chance that you’ll be the first and only person to record them.  Gold star material, no lie.

Center Street Restauant


A 3.75 x 3.75″ ashtray.  Information square is fired on the underside. My mother’s favorite restaurant.  Made their own pies with real meringue, browned on top.  In my 20s, I thought the place was stodgy, but I’d love to have a meal there now.  Food was excellent, waitresses motherly.  And I don’t mean that in any derogatory way.
I think the restaurant began in the early 60s.  In 1953, Jack May was managing both Jack’s Grill in Sullivan Gardens and the Luncheonette at the new Little Store.  Jack and wife Jeanette co-owned Center Street Restaurant and, later, Jack’s Restaurant on Main Street.  There’s a complicated history in all this, but I can’t find a source for it right now.  I’ll update as I learn more.

05/08/2021: Updated time line:

From the late 1940s to 1960, the building at 504 West Center Street was owned by Cardwell and Alberta Hounchell. The original building was a a block building painted white (in the only picture I’ve seen of it) and known at “Center Street Restaurant and Grill”. (When I was a kid, we lived in the apartments at 315 Cherokee Street. In one of the apartments lived a man named “Happy” Hounchell. He was a barber with a shop behind Bingham Furniture on New Street. I wonder if they were related.) (the man and the family, not the furniture store and the barber shop)

An ad in the June 6, 1951, issue of the Kingsport News touts a “completely remodeled” restaurant with pale green walls and gray leatherette upholstery. The current building, though, is shown in the records as having been built in 1952.

In 1979, the restaurant was owned by Gary and Angie Francisco. It closed in August, 1989.

Mason-Dixon matchbook

Let it be clear, right here, right now: I am not a phillumenist.  I don’t collect matchbooks.  But, if something interesting I spy, I buy.  Within reason…

E. Ward King.  Whatta guy.  Junior Achievement has a concise accounting of this man’s life here.

Their 50th in 1982.  In 1986, they’d be in Chapter 11.

This is a 28-match book.  Several have been used from this book, but I have two more in an original 2-book plastic pack.