Yesterday (May 18), this building was completely gutted by fire.
It’s latest label had been as an IGA, before Food City opened their downtown location on the former Kingsport Press property. The IGA closed shortly thereafter. Earlier, it had been a White’s Supermarket, but it had been built as Oakwood Market #2 in 1949 and was the first of the grocery stores to make up what would be known as Supermarket Row, along Canal Street. Wallace Boyd, Sr. had come into Kingsport from Kentucky and had opened the first Oakwood Market in Greenacres in 1947 (this is from a story in a 1947 issue of the Kingsport Times).
The store in Greenacres had an “exotic” canned food section that mom and I would drop by and snicker at. Chocolate-covered grasshoppers and snails and the like. But, like some of the things you see in antique stores, they hadn’t moved in years.
Btw, when Oakwood #2 was built, it had a waterfall on top. It was a triangular structure over the middle of the building. At the top of this, say, 20′ waterfall was the Oakwood sign, painted by Carter’s Art Shop (I used to know a guy who did some of the painting), and under it, on either side, was a continuously-cycling flow of water down a simulated rock waterfall. Most amazing. It is the nature of water to go anywhere there’s an opening, so I suspect that it leaked.
Our Mom worked as a bookkeeper there in the early to mid 50s, in the upstairs office overlooking the store. I remember riding there in my grandfather’s Studebaker to pick her up after work. While we waited for her, we’d listen to the “Br’er Rabbit” stories on the radio while I watched that waterfall with fascination. Of course, we shopped there every week, too.
That show was “Sleepy Joe”…it came to the station on big 78rpm records. Here’s a little bit of information on the Uncle Remus collection.
More than a year later, I know. Your reminding me about “Sleepy Joe” brought back even more fond memories of my first seven years with my grandparents. I’ve read elsewhere that the waterfall was actually a swamp cooler, at least for a time.
I knew a guy who worked for Carter’s Sign company when the “waterfall” was built. He didn’t, in my recollection (which is nearly 40 years old now), mention any practical use for the structure, but he was only working on the Oakwood sign. Given the state of the art of building cooling at that time, I think they would not have passed up a chance to use it for a evaporation cooler. Makes sense.
Ran into this because I went looking to see if by any chance anyone had Oakwood’s recipe for cake icing. It was the absolute best I have ever had; great flavor but better still it’s texture was amazing. The flowers on the cake had a sort of crispness, not mushy and slimy like what you get at Kroger, and still better than what I have found with legit bakery cakes. I’m wondering if they used leaf lard instead of butter or shortening? I also wonder if there are some old Kingsport church cookbooks that might have some bygone grocery store recipes. BTW, our Oakwood of choice was Eastman Road!
I suspect that the bakers at Oakwood used existing recipes for icing and decorative flowers. You might check on line for mid-20th century professional baker’s recipes. I checked for recipes using leaf lard, but didn’t come up with any uses in icings. Good luck!
I always heard that my grandfather, T.A. Brooks, was one of the masons who built the fountain on top of Oakwood. He had also worked on the original part of Holston Valley Hospital.
I used to know a guy who helped paint that “waterfall”, but I’m not in contact with him anymore. I fondly remember that Oakwood…
My brother and I were heartbroken when we learned that the Sullivan Street Oakwood had burned. Our Dad, J.K. Tiller, was heavily involved in building and operating that store. He came to Kingsport as manager of Oakwood #1 (Eastman Rd. original store) in 1949. When Sullivan St. (Oakwood #2) was built, he became Gen. Mgr. over both, and then a co-owner with Wallace Boyd of the Oakwood’s (incl. hardware store and TN Stamp Co. – K Savers) in 1955 when he bought out Dick Stout, Wallace’s original partner in the Oakwood’s. Wallace and Dad had been boyhood friends in Williamsburg, KY. They went on to build the Greenacres Oakwood in 1959. It was one of the most modern and advanced supermarkets of its kind in the US and was named “Supermarket of the Year” in America in 1959. My brother and I spent many evenings, weekends and summers as stock-boys, bag-boys, truck unloaders, etc… in the Oakwood’s! I could go on-and-on… Miss those days growing up in Kingsport with our Dad and the great Kingsport community back in the ’50’s and ’60’s.
Thank you for your comments! I was familiar with all the Oakwood locations, except the Colonial Heights one, which was out of my area. I often operated the downtown studio control room as Marty (Karant) held forth on “Housewife Serenade” from the Greenacres store.
Of course my family loves Martin and Housewife Serenade when it was broadcast from Oakwood Greenacres. I can remember our family having breakfast and Dad leaving for work. We would have ‘Serenade’ on the radio, and in a few minutes hear Martin say,
“Here comes J.K. Tiller, one of the owners of Oakwood; J.K. what specials do you have for shoppers today”? My Mom would then look at me and say, “Well, your Dad made it to work okay!”
I’m enjoying reading through your blog/posts. Would the John Dotson referenced at WKPT be the one I graduated with from D-B in 1968?
Probably. He was a student announcer at WKPT Radio. John was well regarded as a broadcaster. I believe he now lives in California.