117-119 East Lafayette Downtown Jackson Tn.
d n English
The building at 117-119 East Lafayette was built around 1840 as a wooden structure with a stairway to create two rental spaces,
The lower floor each side was rental spaces while the upstairs were set aside for offices and boarding rooms. In the 1860’s the downtown buildings watched as the troops marched into town. Many stores were looted causing the owners as well as the rest of the city to repair the damage.
In the 1870’s 117 was operated as a Saloon with boarding rooms upstairs. While 119 was a general merchandise store with offices on the second floor. In the 1880’s the entire building was bricked. The bricks were made from the clay from the construction sites around town.
By 1884 the corner of Liberty and Lafayette was full of activity. The store at 119 was White and Co. they sold everything from Beaver hats to plows . On the Liberty side was Hartmus Cotton Yard.Horse drawn wagons would come into town during cotton picking time and drop off a bale of cotton. The grader would determine if the company would buy the crop from the farmer. If it the crop was purchased the remaining bales would be loaded on wagons and would be taken to the port to be shipped to Memphis .
At 119 was a Saloon on the bottom floor on the second floor was Hartmus’s cotton buyer’s office and the Jackson Telephone and Telegraph office. The telephone office had one operator to run the switchboard that serviced the 50 telephone customers and the Telegraph terminal .
The turn of the century saw changes in Jackson and to this property. The telephone exchange was now Cumberland Telephone and Telegraph with two switchboards and several operators to accommodate the many customers. The party lines were buzzing. Downstairs at 117 was Klein and Co featuring this new concept “ready to wear”. At 119 was home of one of Jackson’s first bowling alley.
In 1910 gone was the Bowling alley replaced by C. N. Whitlow
General Merchandise . At 117 was the talk of the ladies of Jackson finally a Ladies Fine Hat Shop. Gone was the telephone operators the company had changed hands and had grown so they needed more space.
In the 1920 Jackson had grown more and more travelers were making this Hub City their destination. Downtown was welcoming National chain stores one the first was J.C. Penny which was first located at 109 E Lafayette.
At 117-119 several stores including W.C Diffee Gents Clothing, and Singer Sewing Machine were located here.
Then in the 1930’s J.C Penny’s purchased the building at 117-119 and completed remodeled the store making it one large building filing the entire building including the basement with merchandise
It is no telling how many boys and girls whose parents shopped at J C Penny’s to make sure their children had the new styles for the first day of school. Also a must were the new Boy and Girl Scout Uniforms for their first Scout meeting or was their first experience of getting their feet measured for new shoes. J C Penny along with other downtown stores were the place to shop in Madison Co.
Then in the late 50’s and early 60’s more stores and the Mall opened North of downtown. Times were changing downtown started seeing more and more business moving. J C Penny’s was offered one of the anchor spot in the new Mall so they sold their building downtown and moved.
Various businesses appeared at 117-119 E Lafayette none successful. Then came the building’s hero. TLM purchased the building and restored her to the beauty she is today. Thank you TLM.
Now I have a question, I remember the tubes that took the sales ticket and money to the main office.BUT what I do not remember was there an elevator in Penny’s?
I have many wonderful memories of shopping at Penny’s with Grandmother and being amazed by the window dressings on holidays.
I have received many of your memories and I thank you for them keeping them coming.
The next story will be the ghost story of the loving couple that still call this building home.