Friday, June 14, 2013

Cruising the Back Roads of East Tennessee

With the advent of spring and early summer, Laurie and I are once again out cruising along the back roads of East Tennessee. In the next few months, we’ll expand our road trips to include the northeastern part of the state as well as North Carolina and northern Georgia. 

There’s nothing famous or particularly historical about this old gas station at the intersection of a gravel road and a local highway…except that it’s still in one piece and it’s well maintained!  Sitting at the edge of a farmer’s field, I suspect that he’s the one who has kept his eye on this former Gulf station.  Kudos to whomever for their care of this striking stone structure!

Here’s another former Gulf Gas Station…and also a former general store, post office and residence.  This building is located in Morgan County just a bit west of historic Rugby Tennessee on TN Rte. 52.  It was built by Robert Marion Brooks in the early 1930’s.  He expanded it twice, adding the attached house and then storerooms on two sides.  His wife was Nettie Rosenbaum Brooks and they were married in 1916.
When Laurie took this photo on a recent Saturday, a couple of locals were using the building as a site for their weekend flea market.

Here’s a clutter-free photo of the store that I borrowed from the Internet.  This building is listed in the National Register of Historic Places.  It served as the post office for nearby Rugby from 1957 until 1999.  In 1959, the word was out that the post office might be closed.  Senator Estes Kefauver passed through on TN 52 and was greeted with a sign saying “Save our post office”.  Between the Senator and then Congressman Howard Baker, the store was designated as Rugby’s rural contract post office.  It served as the center of Rugby’s political life for many years.
For an interesting story and many details about life centered at the store and in the surrounding area, just read the following narrative written by R.M. and Nettie’s granddaughter, Linda Sue (Brooks) Jones back in 1992 when the store was still open:

This is the ca. 1881 homestead of Bruno Gernt, one of the founders of Allardt Tennessee. (Population: 634 in 2010) The home can be rented for special events and one can opt to rent it for a vacation as well. 
Once the railroads opened up this area, with the assistance of Frederick Allardt, Bruno Gernt planned this community.  Frederick died in Michigan and never made the move, but Bruno settled in the area, bringing with him German settlers from Michigan and also from Germany.  He named the town in Frederick’s honor. 
Bruno Gernt, (1851-1932), was born in Dresden, Saxony, Germany.  After immigrating to Michigan in 1873, he visited the Cumberland Plateau ca. 1879 and by 1881 he’d planned, designed and begun colonization of Allardt.  He visualized a colony of farms and industry and with his wife and 8 children he pioneered the county’s oil, timber and coal industries.
It’s safe to say that he and his descendants were successful.  Today the Estate of Bruno Gernt Inc. encompasses the Allardt Land Company and East Fork Stables.  The company controls about 12,000 acres with over 100 miles of horse trails.  The company’s equestrian developments include The Highlands at Big South Fork, White Oak, Clark Range West and Stockton Meadows. 

This is the Joe Young house in Allardt Tennessee.  The street next to this house has been renamed Joe Young’s Street…and it is listed in the NRHP, so he must have been important to this town.  This magnificent house was built in 1928.  The only reference I could find regarding Joe Young was a marriage in 1897 to a Miss Julia Moody…so he must have been an early settler in the area.
Did I mention that the current Mayor of Allardt is Phillip Gernt?  He is apparently a great grandson of the town’s founder? To hear Mayor Gernt speak, just click on this link:

This is the last of the National Register of Historic Places that we could find in Allardt Tennessee. Somehow we missed seeing the Gernt Office…must have driven right by it.  In any case, this is the Allardt/First Presbyterian Church.  This Gothic Revival structure was built in 1903.  In addition to being a place of worship, this church serves several other needs…as a meeting place for Narcotics Anonymous/Freedom Group and as a sponsor for “Second Harvest’s Food for Kids” efforts.
One other note of importance regarding Allardt… In October of every year, it is the home of “The Great Pumpkin Festival and Weigh-Off”!  In 2010, one pumpkin weighed in at 1,331 lbs.!  For more on this festival, just go to
Just click on any of the photos to enlarge them…
Thanks for joining us on our Saturday drive along the back roads of East Tennessee!
Take Care, Big Daddy Dave


  1. I sure learn a lot from your travels and research - keep it up.

  2. What wonderful pictures, Dave. The arm chair architect in me would love a chance to work with the old stone gas station. It would make a great small home. I hope your weekend is off to a great start. Have a good Father's Day! Blessings...Mary

  3. Love the pictures David and I love these houses!
    Hope you have a good Father's day!