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Swift recalls Mountain City in days gone by

By:  Jack Swift

Of all the comments I get about my column, most of them are about wanting to know more concerning the days of yore in or around Johnson County and Mountain City. Since I wasn’t there in those days of yesteryear, I have to rely on writings of people who were there, or folks who are old enough to remember how it was several years ago.
I have pictures that show Mountain City as it was in the early 1900s. I have a picture of Johnson County’s second courthouse. The first courthouse was condemned and was razed due to it’s being unsafe. I’m old enough to remember the second courthouse with its oiled oak floors and offices for the various county governmental departments. That building was basically on the same site as the present one. Another building that I was very familiar with was the large three-story building behind the present high school that has since been torn down. The Masons built that building and used the third floor for their meetings etc. first and second floors were used for elementary school classes and later for some high school classes. I remember it well due to my having physics classes on the first floor and health classes on the second floor. But it was the second such building on or near the site. Following the Civil War, the Masons and the Town of Taylorsville (later Mountain City) operated a school called the Masonic Institute in a three-story brick building until it was torn down in 1905. A replacement for the old Masonic Institute opened for classes in February of 1908, and continued to operate until 1950.
The first county-owned high school building opened for operation January of 1922. It contained four classrooms, an auditorium, rest rooms and the principal’s office. Right and left wings were added later to include more classrooms, library, labs and other much needed facilities. Of course the present school opened in 1966.
I remember when several stately white frame homes lined West Main Street. Several trees were also along the sidewalks.
Getting back to even earlier in the history of Mountain City, I have pictures of Main Street before any kind of pavement became a reality. On the right facing from the now traffic light toward the west is a sign that says Mountain City Inn. Another sign more distant reads Tip Top Hotel. Those signs were probably welcome sights to a weary traveler. Since the streets weren’t paved, I can imagine that following a rain in that era there would be a muddy mess in the streets of Mountain City. As I was born in 1938, I have a good memory of some of the things I’ve mentioned in this article, some were before my time.