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Picturing the Past 67: A different Madison Street

Posted Tuesday, June 29, 2010, at 10:02 AM

The old Alamo Plaza motel and a portion of Madison Street at Bethany Lane in 1952. (T-G file photo)
Madison Street looks less busy than today in this July 30, 1952 photo showing what was then known as Alamo Plaza motel, which still operates today under a different name and even looks much the same.

Looks like some paving must have been in progress. This is the area of Madison Street which wasn't widened until the 1980s, which leads me to the question I've had for some time: When was Madison between North Main and Whitthorne Streets four-laned? I haven't found any photos from the 1950s, and remember it as four-lane in the 1960s, so I suspect it may have been done in the early 1940s when U.S. 41A was built.

Road crews have had some problems with the downtown portion of Madison in recent years because at some point many years ago it was paved with, apparently, concrete over the top of water and sewer lines.I wonder if that was when it was four-laned. That comes to mind because a portion of today's South Main Street in front of the library appears to be concrete rather than the usual pavement.


A few weeks ago I posted a photo of a pre-urban renewal street from 1956 which no one seemed to remember. Here's another one from April 18, 1956, showing what appears to once have been a large, fine home in its earlier days. Anyone remember this one and where it was located -- and/or its history?

Picturing the Past is featured each Tuesday in this blog. Reader contributions are welcome.

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Thanks David for two more great pictures. Boy, you have got me on this one. Even though I was raised less than 100 yards from the intersection of Madison and Whitthorne, I am completely blank on your question. I think that my old timers is flaring up again. I want to say that stretch of highway was two lanes with wide lanes and parking room on the side of the street, because I remember parking on the side many times up and down the street, but I can not be sure that was the original layout.

I also remember when that highway was built in the early 40s because we were living on East Lane at that time and I would go across the back lot to watch the road construction crews at work. The machine they were using was fascinating to me because I had never seen anything like it before. It was a gasoline powered machine on tracks that looked a lot like the asphalt paving machines of today except that it had a big pan hinged on to the back of the machine. Concrete was mixed right in that pan and then it was raised and dumped right on the spot and concrete finishers would then do their magic.

I well remember the Alamo Plaza and the Lloyds who ran it in the 50s.

I do not recognize the house in the picture but that looks like farm country with the house sitting behind a store building.

David, please refresh my memory on the street from a few weeks ago that no one seemed to remember.

-- Posted by leeiii on Tue, Jun 29, 2010, at 10:35 AM

leeiii, the street from a few weeks ago was pictured in PTP 61 posted on May 18.

-- Posted by David Melson on Tue, Jun 29, 2010, at 2:47 PM

Thanks David, but I still can not say definately which street it would have been. It could have been any one of many that now make up the Big Springs Shopping Center and parking lot.

-- Posted by leeiii on Tue, Jun 29, 2010, at 5:20 PM

In 1948 the drop off for kids going to Madison Street school was at the curb in front of the school with traffic still flowing in another lane, so they probably eliminated parking along Madison to give them the 4 lanes. These are foggy memories, so I could be wrong about that. I don't have a clue about the farm house.

-- Posted by Cal t on Tue, Jun 29, 2010, at 6:11 PM

Like leeiii I recall Madison St. being 2 lanes with parking on each side out to Witthorne St. when I worked at United Super Mkt in 1955-56....

I also recall concrete paving especially on 41A north of the now old hospital...You could recognize the concrete paving by the thumps it made when you crossed the expansion joints...

-- Posted by FlaDon on Tue, Jun 29, 2010, at 6:51 PM

My father built the Alamo Plaza for the Lloyds and I remember Mr. Lloyd and Daddy were both very proud of it. My father was also the superintendent on the construction of the old colored high school. My parents, in their later years, made pictures of his constructions and I have them in an album, but not sure where it is. Time moves on!

-- Posted by luckylu on Wed, Jun 30, 2010, at 10:42 AM

Seeing the picture of the Alamo Plaza makes the memories start flowing. I can't recall...which came first...the Alamo Plaza or the Blue Ribbon on North Main?

-- Posted by steadyeddie on Wed, Jun 30, 2010, at 11:37 PM

steadyeddie, I can not remember either. It seems to me that the Alamo Plaza, Blue Ribbon Inn, and Bedford Motor Court all may have been within a few years of each other, with the Magnolia being just a little later but I just can not place an order to them.

-- Posted by leeiii on Thu, Jul 1, 2010, at 6:41 AM

Thanks David for pictures that revive long ago images that have almost faded from my aging mind. I remember vaguely riding a bus to Tullahoma to see a movie in the early 40s. The bus ride was on the new Tullahoma hwy-41A?. As I remember, the road was still under construction and someone said the road was being built,or upgraded, to support movement of wartime vehicles. I can't remember the title of the movie or why we would go to Tullahoma to see it, but I do recall that it was a wonderful treat at the time. We sat on benches in a park in the middle of Tullahoma, across from a lot of railroad tracks I don't remember the movie or much about the bus, because the bus was full of beautiful girls. In those days Madison St was the center of the world located between the Rebel Maid and the barbeque drive in at the intersection with Wartrace Pike. I may be mistaken, but German POWs that camped out in a field next to the Riddle house, in the Shelbyville Mills area, worked on Madison Street constructions and upkeep during the early 40s.

-- Posted by Grits on Fri, Jul 2, 2010, at 12:12 PM

According to state real estate records, Blue Ribbon Inn was built in 1947; Alamo Plaza (now known as Budget Motel), 1950; Magnolia Motel, 1952; and Bedford Motor Court (now Bedford Inn), 1955.

-- Posted by David Melson on Fri, Jul 2, 2010, at 3:15 PM

Thanks David for doing the research. I had in my mind that they would have been built in about that time frame.

Another one that came to my mind would have been the one beside Robert Brown's house of Fix-It Shop fame, but I can not remember the original name. There were some pictures of it in the T-G a few weeks ago during flash flooding.

-- Posted by leeiii on Fri, Jul 2, 2010, at 4:37 PM

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David Melson is a copy editor and staff writer for the Times-Gazette.