The Abston Garage is a one-story, brick commercial garage built c. 1922, by Thomas Franklin (T.F.) Abston. T. F. Abston moved to Oliver Springs in the early twentieth century, after having lived in several other small Tennessee towns including Windrock in Anderson County and Rockwood in Roane County where he had previously earned his living as an electrician and mechanic. Upon moving to Oliver Springs in the early twentieth century, Abston built and operated a coal fired power plant in town. An entrepreneur, Abston responded to the increasing prominence of the automobile as a primary means of transportation over the railroad by constructing a small automobile garage near the location of the extant building c. 1915. Automobile garages were rapidly becoming common features of the roadside landscape during this period. First developed in the 1890s, the technique of mass production promoted by Henry Ford in the early 1900s brought about the proliferation of the automobile as a way of life by 1920. In Tennessee, the number of registered automobiles increased from 40 in 1900, to approximately 15,000 in 1913, and 102,000 in 1920.
In 1922, Abston and his business partner Johnny Cox constructed the Abston Garage, then known as the Oliver Springs Motor Company, to be a combined automobile dealership, service and repair garage, and accessories shop. This combination of functions into a single commercial garage was typical of early automobile support facilities. Manuals produced in the 1910s and 1920s assisted potential commercial garage operators in the construction and arrangement of these types of facilities
It is located at 301 Kingston Avenue, the old State Highway 61, once a major thoroughfare from Clinton to Harriman that passes through Oliver Springs. It faces north-northwest on Kingston Avenue, on a corner lot at the intersection of Winter Gap Road, in Oliver Springs. The garage is surrounded by mostly residential structures, and the Oliver Springs Depot sits only a block southwest on Winter Gap Road. Larger in size and scale than the surrounding structures, the garage occupies roughly the entire parcel of the corner lot.
Since its construction, the Abston Garage has served as a commercial garage to sell and service cars and auto parts, and as a bus stop both for a Greyhound and a local bus line. Capitalizing on the proliferation of the automobile in the 1910s and 1920s, it represents early trends in combined automobile dealerships and service centers. In addition to commerce and transportation, the Abston Garage also met several entertainment and social needs of citizens. Particularly important during the World War II years as a local venue for popular recreational activities, the building served as a performance venue, movie theater, bowling alley, church meeting place, and snack bar. It was important as a community center.
The load-bearing masonry building is constructed of local brick made at the Oliver Springs Brick Plant.
The building was owned and operated as a commercial garage by the Abston family from c. 1922 until c. 1942 when it was sold to M.D. Williams, in part to settle the Abston estate after the death of Mrs. Thomas Franklin Abston. Purchased by Williams in 1942, the second phase of significance for the Abston Garage began with the development and growth of Oak Ridge in Anderson County. This community growth during the World War II years also contributed to an increased need for entertainment venues, on which M.D. Williams capitalized when he purchased the garage in early 1942. He recognized the need for entertainment and recreation and quickly converted the garage to a movie theater that had fully equipped projectors with sound effects. Along with the wartime population boom, the increasing popularity of movies in the 1940s and the desire for entertainment during war time precipitated the establishment of entertainment venues across the country. Thus, the movie theater in Oliver Springs became a major local attraction during the World War II years. Movies were shown in the rear portion of the building, with the screen located at the north end of the large open space. At this time, the front central garage entrance was replaced with a storefront and single door entrance.
M.D. Williams owned the Abston Garage for approximately a decade before he sold it to Ralph M. Daugherty in 1951. Daugherty adapted the building to again utilize it as a garage, and operated it as such until the 1970s. The garage, the Daugherty Motor Company, functioned as a repair and service shop and a used car, auto parts, and accessories sales center. Following World War II, car dealerships were mostly relocated to strips at the edge of town, replacing downtown commercial garages such as the one that had operated from the Abston Garage in the 1920s and 1930s. However, service centers and parts stores remained necessary elements of the automobile landscape of cities and towns. The Daugherty's responded to this need by returning the Abston Garage to an automobile-oriented facility in 1951. As advertised in 1975, it bought and sold used cars; sold new and used parts; specialized in auto air conditioning service and repair; and dealt with paint and body repair, transmissions, break service, and radiator repair. Daugherty also operated a wrecker service out of the building. While focusing primarily on automobile service and parts, Daugherty also reopened the snack bar to be supervised by his wife, Pauline. The snack bar in the northeast room remained a popular gathering place for the community through the 1970s. In addition to its use as a garage and snack bar, the Daugherty's added partition walls and temporarily lived in a section of the building. The non-structural changes were primarily made in the northwest corner room where the original office was located. In this space, Daugherty added several removable partition walls and put openings in the east wall of the northwest room. Daugherty removed the theater seats and screen from the rear section, leaving an open auto service space in the rear portion of the building. Few structural changes were necessary to convert the building into the garage.
The building is currently undergoing restoration by the Oliver Springs Historical Society. The Oliver Springs Historical Society plans to use the building as a community center, hosting community events and installing exhibits and displays on Oliver Springs's history. Throughout its nearly one hundred-year history, the Abston Garage has served the community of Oliver Springs in a variety of capacities. Whether as a garage, snack bar, bus stop, movie theater, or place of worship, the Abston Garage was an active part of the community of Oliver Springs that illustrates the importance of commercial garages.
The building in on the National Register of Historic Places
The Mary Ellen Wiley house that the Oliver Springs Historical Society recently purchased with the hopes to restore to it's former glory.
The home was built in 1890 by Mary Ellen Wiley, the daughter of Henry Howard Wiley. She was one of ten children born to Henry and Mary Wiley. Her father was the son of Alexander Wiley who fought in the Revolutionary War. Henry and his children are intertwined with many important families of Oliver Springs history. Perhaps the most important historical fact was that her dad, Henry and Kingston lawyer, William S. McEwen formed a partnership for acquiring land in Roane, Morgan and Anderson counties that eventually led to formation of Coal Creek Mining and Manufacturing Company. This company still exists today and the heirs still benefit.
Mary Ellen Wiley never married and worked in the family business in her early life but later considered herself a capitalist. She also owned the lot on the corner where the Abston Garage would later be built but in the early days this lot was used for picnics, croquet and badminton in the community. Her nephew Thomas Wiley and niece Elizabeth Wiley Tucker lived with her in later life. When she died in 1915, she left her house and lots to her nephew Thomas Wiley. John Cox, who worked at Sienknechts store and married Myrtle Davis of Coalfield later bought the Mary Wiley home and went into a partnership with Tom Abston to build the garage next door, he later sold his interest to Mr. Abston and moved to Ridgely where he became very well-off financially before he died in 1985, then M.D. and Louise Williams and was home to Gail Gilmore before the historical society acquired the property.
Jabez Gilead Mitchell Jr. The building of the home dates to the late 1880's and it sits on the corner of Kingston Street and Winter's Gap Avenue and is known as the house of seven gables. Jabez was the son of Jabez Gilead Mitchell and Eliza Jane Wiley, she was the oldest child of the previously discussed Henry Howard Wiley.
His father was a state representative for White, Van Buren, and Fentress Counties for a time. Jabez Jr. was born in 1857 at Lookout Mountain, TN. After his father's death in 1875 he was living in Winter's Gap where his mother returned. He was working a time as a merchant along with his brother John, they operated a two story store on Estabrook Ave. where the Cross store would later be located. Soon after building his house he went to Texas and married his bride, Sarah J. Taylor in 1895. They had three children in this home, two sons and a daughter, but sometime before 1910 they left the area for Texas and later to Oklahoma where Jabez lived and farmed. He would die in 1943 and return to be buried in Oliver Springs.
Others to call this home were, Lawyer Charles Jackson, Alex Nichols, Reverend C.L. Bruington, Luther Abston, Neil Simmons, Bruce Williams, Douglas Silvey and the late Mayor, Charles "Pete" Johnson.
The home of Dr. Herman Everett Heacker. Although Dr. Heacker didn't build this home, I'll start with him because I need more information on who actually built it c.1900. I've read a Morrison Family as well as William A. Grey, so stay tuned.
Dr. Herman E. Heacker was born in 1886 to Edwin W. Heacker, the eldest son of Dr. William J. Heacker from Prussia who came to America in 1852. His grandfather's journey from the Medical University of Bonn took him later to Paris, then America and a medical practice in Louisville, KY and civil war experiences that would make a book. After the war to Illinois and then finally in 1878 to Tennessee where he owned a sanitarium and a two hundred-room hotel at Mineral Hill Springs as a spa and summer resort. This site is now under Cherokee Lake. Dr. Herman E. Heacker's grandfather was an amazing man and extremely successful, he spoke five languages, was skilled as a musician on several instruments, was an exceptional artist, and for over forty years wrote regularly for a number of medical journals. He and his wife Armilda are buried at Bean Station.
Edwin W. Heacker married Catherine Croxdale and worked as a conductor for the Southern Railroad, Edwin and Catherine had ten children. Dr. Herman E. Heacker was their third child. Herman attended schools in Knoxville until his parents moved to Texas in 1896 but his parents returned to Bean Station in 1908. He then attended Carson-Newman College for two years, and worked at his grandfather's Mineral Hill Springs Hotel. He then attended Lincoln Memorial University Medical School in Knoxville for one year before it closed. He then got his Doctor of Medicine degree at the University of Tennessee at Memphis in 1916.
Dr. Herman E. Heacker married Dora Grace Smith in 1911 and began his medical Practice in Coalfield in 1916 as a "Company Doctor" for Coalfield Coal Co. and Conger Coal Co. and had a general practice. Dr Heacker moved to Oliver Springs in 1923 He bought this home on 411 Kingston Ave. from Alex Jackson. He also bought the former Farmer's Bank brick building on the same street for an office. Later he bought the two-story Tri-County Bank building on Main Street for a office that still stands today. All of his children graduated from Oliver Springs High School, Herman, Nora, Sally, Martha, Louise, and Elizabeth. All by Dora who died in 1925. Dr. Heacker married secondly Ann Cora Adkisson and together that had, Howard, William and Frederick. He died in 1946 and is buried in Knoxville.
This home would then become the home of Dr. Heacker's daughter, Louise, who married Nevin Smith. Here they would raise their seven children, Dr. James H Smith (Donna) of Dyersburg, Robert Wayne Smith, Dr. Mike Smith (Rene) of Bartlett, Susan Lowman (Bruce) of Franklin, Virginia Haydon (Troy) of Loudon, TN, Dr. Steve Smith (Margie) of Oliver Springs and Dr. David Smith (Debbie) of Knoxville. The home is still owned by the family and is a rental house.