Historic District Walking Tour

Category: History

Article Index

compass   Continue on South Park Avenue to Main Street Corner.

Explore The Past 1

Main Street was originally named Propst Street, for J.G. Propst, the land developer who helped organize New Switzerland.  The block south of Main Street on the left was originally the location of livery stables, where horses were kept for travelers or people in town for the day.  Louis Lemason's house and barber shop were located on the corner.  In the 1920's , D.L. Voorhies built the corner building as the Hohenwald Filling Station, one of the first in town for the automobile.  The other buildings have served as a theater, a cafe' and a meat locker.

North of Main Street on the left was the site of N. Hinson's corner store and residences.  In the early 1920's, J.W. Finerty built the row of buildings which still exist.  The corner building became the corner drug store B&O Pharmacy.  The building to the left at various times, has housed the post office, a movie theater and a bowling alley.  The other buildings have been used as restaurants and for retail.

Turn right on Main Street.  Most buildings on the north side of Main Street on the left were built after the 1926 fire destroyed most of the block.  In the early 1900's, Dr. Dabbs' pharmacy stood on the corner and a post office was built next door.  The Schild Hotel and boarding house stood to the right.  Next, a small row of buildings, including the two-story Meryln Theater or opera house, formed the center of the block.  To the east, was open space containing a well for people to water their horses.  On thge corner was the Swiss Merchandise Company, the first store in the colony.,  Swiss Pioneer Union members shared in any profits from the store.

The buildings on the south side, on the right, date from 1898.  An ice cream parlor stood on the corner where the bank is now located.  To the east was another livery stable for horses and a hardware store.  A.P. Grover, a merchant from the old Hohenwald colony, built the next building for a dry goods and grocery in 1912.  The buildings housing the next three stores were built around 1915, to replace a three-story dry goods store, W.J. Cude's, where the early city government also met upstairs.  The building was destroyed in the 1912 fire.  The next brick building is likely the oldest on the block and was built for the Overbey dry goods store.The following three brick buildings were also built by J.D. Overbey beginning in the late 1890's, for an expansion of the brothers' store and for the 1903 Hohenwald Bank & Trust Company.  The current corner parking lot was the location of the Propst Hotel, where new settlers stayed until they could move to the temporary barracks and then on to their new houses.

Cross Maple Street and continue walking east.  The Jones Hotel stood on the north side of Main St.  Dr. Beasley's Drug Store was located downstairs.  F.A. Goodman built a large brick building on the south side of Main St. on the right for a dry goods store in 1903.  Bricks from that building were incorporated into the 1939 Strand Theater.  At the corner, a large bell on a pole served as a fire bell to alert the "bucket brigade" to assemble to draw water from the well to fight a fire.

At the end of the walk, tracks from the NC & St. L Railroad and later the L&N Railroad line are visible along the walk on the north side of Main Street.  These tracks are where new settlers got their first glimpse of the new town and they served as their link to the outside world.  It is also believed that Thomas Edison traveled these tracks in search of cobalt.  To the right is the NC &St.L Depot, built in 1896, and listed on the National Register of Historic Places.  It was originally located near what is now the center of US Hwy 412, and its bay window originally faced Main St.  Main Street ended at the Depot.  The Depot was one of the main gathering places in the community as early settlers met to receive ltheir mail, packages and new visitors to the town.  To the east of the depot property was the original location to the Swiss Society Park, where settlers gathered to dance waltzes, listen to the brass band "The Echo of Switzerland" or perform the William Tell play.  Many early settlers are buried in Swiss Cemetery to the south of Society Park.



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