Tag Archives: Downtowner Motor Inn Kingsport TN

Eastman, with Bridge

eastmanfront eastmanback

Another Haynes Distributing postcard, printed by Dexter, West Nyack NY.  On December 4, 1967, that bridge, already 50 years old, collapsed when the driver of a 13.5 ton truck drove onto the 5-ton limit bridge.  Someone had helpfully removed the load limit sign on the Long Island side of the bridge.  The driver, though quite chilled after the 30-odd foot drop into the South Fork of the Holston River, wasn’t hurt.Afterwards, Eastman firmly opposed rebuilding the bridge, citing things like height, depth, width, water, air, arm-waving and other important considerations.

Since this card was mailed at the Downtowner Motor Inn, which wasn’t completed until 1962, the slightly non-existant postmark is probably 1965.

And we all hope Mrs. Frisco got out real soon.

The Downtowner Motor Inn


Architect’s rendering of the not-yet-quite-built Downtowner Motor Inn, corner of Center and Shelby Streets in downtown Kingsport.  It was announced in the Kingsport Times-News in 1960 and was probably open for business in 1961. Having a Downtowner was a big deal at the time.  The only other one in Tennessee was in Memphis.  This one lasted until the early 1990s.  At some time in the 70s, I took my mother to the restaurant there to have breakfast.  I found a cockroach in my biscuit.
The Downtowner corporation began in 1958 in Memphis.  At one time, it was owned by Perkins
Pancake House and then changed hands several times until it mostly went belly up in 1993.
When I first came to Kingsport in 1956, this lot was empty.  You could look out the back door of the Kress building and see the old City Hall on the west corner of Shelby and Center.  Hinch Gilliam had a cab stand up on the Market-Shelby corner on this lot.
There must be hundreds of copies of this card.  They’re all over the web for sale at prices ranging from $10 to $24 each.  I probably paid a buck when I bought this one a decade or so ago.