It was quite a feat to move a store building a number of miles from its location on Highway 67 to a site at the Butler Museum in Butler, Tennessee. The W. S. (Stanley) Stout Store had stood alongside Highway 67 for many years. It no longer was in operation and needed to be saved. The process became possible when the owners Brian Kruger and Robert Ford, who had bought it several years ago, donated the store to the museum. The Butler Museum Board and a host of volunteers together accomplished that project of moving the store building to the museum grounds. A dedication ceremony is set to take place at the store May 28, at 11:00 a.m.
Layman Construction and House Moving from Parrottsville, Tennessee was hired to take on the challenging job of moving the store and with slow painstaking effort it was brought to its new location at the museum on November 4, 2010. After much preparatory work building a foundation, landscaping and furnishing the interior the store is ready to open.
Not so many years ago almost every community had a general store, or country store. Websters Unabridged Dictionary defines a general store as a retail store situated usually in a small or rural community which carries a wide variety of consumer convenience goods including groceries but is not departmentized. The W. S. Stout Store certainly would have fit that definition during its heyday. Many of the readers of this column will remember the country stores that dotted the Johnson County landscape and the ones they visited often, sometimes not to buy but to help solve the worlds problems or play a game of checkers. Sadly, there are only a few country stores left in Johnson County.
Trade, cash or credit were the three ways of purchasing products at some of the general stores. I remember when folks would take eggs, produce or chickens to the store and exchange them for needed items. Many times the storekeeper would extend credit to farm families until harvest time.
Living in Swift Hollow off Highway 67, the nearest stores for me to visit were the S. L. Harbin Store and the D. C. Fenner Store. Both were located about a little over two miles west of Mountain City on Highway 67. Those stores, and Im sure the W. S. Stout Store as well, were often destinations for the bean-picking crowd at lunchtime. A cracker and cheese or cracker and bologna sandwich tasted pretty good with an R. C. Cola in those days after working in the bean field all morning under the hot sun.
The W. S. Stout Store was originally within a mile of Old Butler, the town that was inundated by the waters of Watauga Lake. When the lake came, Stout was forced to move. He relocated his store to the Highway 67 site in 1948. He operated it until his death and his daughter Doris and Her Husband John L. Dugger operated the store after that. They retired from the retail business and the store was closed.
That old store will see new life, as it will once again have many visitors who will explore it with great interest. No doubt the store will bring back memories for folks who grew up near a country store. Of course the W. S. Stout Store and the Butler Museum serves to remind us of the sacrifice some made due to the path of progress. The museum is filled with items from Old Butler and many photographs of Old Butler as it was before the deluge. I urge my readers to attend the dedication of the W. S. Stout Store on May 28, 2011.
Also, to mark the Butler Museums tenth anniversary, tours of the Museum will take place Friday, Saturday and Sunday, May 27,28 and 29, from 1:00 p.m. until 4:00 p.m. each day. Go by and tour the Butler Museum. Im sure youll find it interesting and informative.