Tag Archives: Kingsport Times-News

Parkway Plaza redux (sort of)


In my previous (August, 2015) posting on Parkway Plaza, I was a little dismissive of it, which was wrong. When this Plaza was built, in 1961, it was poised to take advantage of the fire hose of traffic heading into Kingsport from the Southwest Virginia/Southeast Kentucky region. Well, then I-26 (completed in 2003) went in, bypassing Kingsport and taking the fire hose with it.

In an article written by Frank Creasy for the Kingsport Times-News edition of June 4, 1961, Greene Investments announced that the new Parkway Plaza was scheduled to open that October and would feature anchor stores Kroger, Grants, and W.B. Greene Ladies Fashion Shop. The Plaza actually opened in November and included One Hour Martinizing #4, Reba’s Coiffures, Potter’s Barber Shop, Armour Drug, Top Value Stamp Store and Dutch Oven Bakery.

Kroger and Armour Drug store kept their downtown locations, also. The other Kroger was located approximately where the church-owned building sits across from Mafair UMC at Prospect Drive. Armour Drug had their store a little to the east of that building.

For its time, it was a happening place.

Nikon Price List, 1969

I picked this up at Kingsport Camera Shop, then on Cherokee Street, at some point while I was drooling over the new Nikon cameras. This was when photographers were beginning to acknowledge that the Japanese were rolling out excellent cameras and lenses. Single-lens reflex cameras were still fairly new in 1969 (a year earlier, I had shot Pentax SLRs at the Times-News).

Look at those prices, which I thought were sky high even then. This is just the cover. The leaflet goes on to price lenses, camera bags, medical lenses, viewfinders, photomicrographic lenses and so forth. Prices range from a high of $895 for a 220 degree Nikkor fisheye (f5.6) to fifty cents for a plastic case for a 52mm filter. The plastic body cap ran you $1.35.

Center Dale Service Station


Back in June of 1967, I was working as a photographer for the Kingsport Times-News.  I got dispatched to this service station, then known as Smith Shell, to photograph the aftermath of an accident: a lady driving away from getting gas snagged the hose  of one of the pumps.  The pump overturned, electrical connections were severed and a fire ensued, quickly extinguished by the Kingsport Fire Department.  By the time I got there, the fire was out and the KFD was mopping up.

I just looked up the photo I took.  It’s at newspapers.com.

The station was built in 1955 by J.D. Smith.  I remember him well, but from the 1980s or so.

Oakwood Market #2

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 Venerable Civic Auditorium

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This is a Haynes Publishing postcard (printed by Dexter) from the mid-60s.  When the photo was taken, this barrel-roofed building was over 40 years old; it was finished in 1940 as the Kingsport Civic Auditorium and Armory.  It was built under the Public Works Administration.  If the resolution of the image were better, I might be able to read more of the sign, but I think it’s for a wrestling match. I checked the Times-News archives, but couldn’t match anything up.

I wonder if all the armor, since it’s no longer an “armory, is now down at the library…

Downtown Kingsport

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I have several views of downtown Kingsport taken from Cement Hill.  Several years ago, when I was new to postcards and rather dismissive of chromes, I thought this was a recent card and, based on seeing the old City Hall, I dated it to the early 60s. But I didn’t realize until today, when I was looking at it again, that I could date it really accurately.  The red arrow points to the old City Hall (and library) and the yellow arrow indicates the Downtowner.  The Downtowner opened for business in 1961 and The Kingsport Times-News (November, 1962) reported that the old City Hall was mostly demolished.  The photo for this card was taken in summer of 1962.
It was published by Haynes Distributing Company in Roanoke and was printed in West Nyack NY by Dexter Publishing Company.  Joyce L. Haynes took the photo.  I’m not turning up any information on Haynes Distributing Company, nor of Joyce L. Haynes. She does, however, show up as the photographer for many postcards of this period.

Another Kingsport Book

Published shortly after 1962, this 9″x12″ unpaginated book was wholly a product of Kingsport.  Paper by Mead, binding fabrics by Holliston Mills, and with typography, printing and binding by Kingsport Press.  It was authored by Ben Haden and designed by J. Fred Wright.
The book has no copyright date, but I couldn’t find any date in the text past 1962.  I assume it was produced as a promotional piece for the far-ranging Kingsport  boosters (there were many).  It features some interesting pictures, along with bios of the prominent men – and only men – of the time.  There’s also a fine picture of Charlie Deming of WKPT-AM.  Although he was basically a morning personality and sometimes sports announcer, he’s shown working a mike at the passenger side door of the station mobile unit.  Marty must have been out of town…

The Kingsport Rotary Club has been a major force in keeping a published record of Kingsport as it grew.  Their first 4.5″x7″ book “Kingsport Tennessee City of Industry Schools Churches Homes” (green cover) was published in 1937.

The second book “Kingsport Tennessee The Planned Industrial City” (blue cover) came out in 1946.

The third book (tan cover), with the same title as the 1946 book, was published in 1951.  It was edited by Bill Freehoff, who was then with the Kingsport Times-News.  (He was working in the news department at Holston Valley Broadcasting when I hired on there in 1967)

In my opinion, the best book about Kingsport’s history is Margaret Ripley Wolfe’s “Kingsport Tennessee A Planned American City” (1987, University of Kentucky Press).  It can be a trifle arid at times, but she writes well and handles the material in good order.

Lest I forget: “KINGSPORT A Romance of Industry” by Howard Long, came out in 1928.  Published by The Sevier Press, Kingsport, Tennessee, it’s not a scholarly piece, but is worth reading, if only for the sense of optimism that prevailed in these few years preceding the Great Depression.

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.

Porterfield City Feed


This is 469 West Sullivan Street.  In 1959, this was Porterfield City Feed Company, next to City Poultry and Egg Company.  CP&ECo was on the corner of Sullivan and what was then Island Street (It’s now Mission Street).  The buildings are currently derelict.

When I was a kid, I had a paper route in downtown Kingsport.  One year, the Kingsport Times-News, then located on Market Street, held some sort of contest and I ended up winning a certificate for a turkey from CP&Eco, just in time for Thanksgiving.  It was, as I recall, a mingy turkey, but it was quite welcome, since my stepdad wasn’t having a particularly good year.  My stepdad never had a particularly good year.