Murfreesboro Businesses From The Past

Our beloved Murfreesboro has been a bustling center of commerce for years and years. Let’s take a look at some of the places that have catered to local customers from the city’s earliest beginnings to today thanks to The Heritage Center For Murfreesboro & Rutherford County’s amazing photography and information.

Screenshot - 3_14_2016 , 1_06_24 PM

The former J.C. Penny, located on N. Maple in Murfreesboro.

Screenshot - 3_14_2016 , 1_11_31 PM

The much remembered Princess Theater!

Screenshot - 3_14_2016 , 1_28_19 PM
The James K. Polk Hotel opened on March 1, 1929, and was Murfreesboro’s premier hotel for a number of years. A barbershop and other shops were located inside. It was demolished in 1977.

Screenshot - 3_14_2016 , 1_32_38 PM
The Carnation Milk Plant opened in Murfreesboro in October 1927. Within a year, the company was buying 200,000 pounds of milk per day from the farmers of Rutherford and adjoining counties. (A History of Rutherford County, p. 206).

Screenshot - 3_14_2016 , 1_36_16 PM

The Putnam Overall Manufacturing Company, operating 150 machines, is the fifth largest clothing factory from St. Louis to the coast. It is the largest plant in Tennessee that manufactures a complete line of working-men’s clothes.

(Handbook of Murfreesboro and Rutherford County, Tennessee, p.5)

Screenshot - 3_14_2016 , 1_41_14 PM

The first cotton gin in the county was owned by James Rucker.

(From Annals of Rutherford County, v. 1, John C. Spence, p. 67).

Screenshot - 3_14_2016 , 1_59_02 PM
Aerial view of Murfreesboro, c. 1900.

Screenshot - 3_14_2016 , 2_09_05 PM
Murfreesboro Bank & Trust Building.

Screenshot - 3_14_2016 , 2_14_16 PM

“One of the first wholesale groceries established in Tennessee outside of the larger cities was organized by Henry King in 1900, and began business under the name of Overall, King & Lytle. On January 1, 1915 the business was incorporated under the name of Henry King & Company…”

(Handbook of Murfreesboro and Rutherford County Tennessee (1923), p. 42)

Screenshot - 3_15_2016 , 12_09_16 PM
The City Cafe was opened on the south side of the Square in February 1900. It moved in 1952 and again in 1991, and can now be found on East Main Street. (Deborah Wagnon and Christian Hidalgo, Murfreesboro, p. 11). (Photo c.
1935, courtesy Library of Congress)

Screenshot - 3_15_2016 , 12_12_59 PM
Consumers Supply Co., suppliers of ice, ice cream, and cold drinks.

Screenshot - 3_15_2016 , 12_13_54 PM
East side of the Square, from the Handbook of Rutherford County and Murfreesboro, 1924.

Screenshot - 3_15_2016 , 12_15_13 PM
The business district in Murfreesboro from the Handbook of Rutherford County and Murfreesboro, 1924.

Screenshot - 3_15_2016 , 12_16_08 PM
A view of the Square. Anyone remember shopping for your Easter clothes at Goldstein’s?

Screenshot - 3_15_2016 , 12_19_28 PM
Image of the Murfreesboro Square from the Library of Congress. It was taken by Ben Shahn in 1935. You can see the steeple for the First Methodist Church in the background.

Screenshot - 3_15_2016 , 12_21_41 PM
The Imperial Hotel is still there and located at 610 NW Broad, between Lytle and Memorial/Old Fort Parkway.

Screenshot - 3_15_2016 , 12_23_08 PM
John McDermott opened the New Drugstore (as seen in the right of the photograph) in Murfreesboro in 1850. The photograph is c. 1862.

Screenshot - 3_15_2016 , 12_26_09 PM
Masonic Building that once stood here in Murfreesboro.

Screenshot - 3_15_2016 , 12_27_08 PM

The Square, c. 1970s, showing Henry’s Florist, Fred’s, Rone Jewelry, Ruby’s. Who remembers shopping at any of these stores?

Screenshot - 3_15_2016 , 12_33_09 PMThe Haynes Hotel (the building beneath the large red arrow) was built just before the beginning of the 20th century by James Monroe Haynes at the corner of College and Maple. It was next owned by Ferdinand Washington Miles from c. 1910 to the 1930s. C.B. Arnette described it as Murfreesboro’s finest hotel in the first quarter of the 20th century. (Photo from the Historic Murfreesboro Postcard Collection donated by Ridley Wills II.)

Screenshot - 3_15_2016 , 12_34_01 PM
South side of the Square from the Handbook of Rutherford County and Murfreesboro, 1924.

Screenshot - 3_15_2016 , 12_58_05 PM
The Murfreesboro Square in the 1930s, from the Library of Congress. Photo taken by Ben Shahn, c. 1935, and is part of the Farm Security Administration/Office of War Information Black-and-White Negatives.

Screenshot - 3_15_2016 , 1_01_21 PM
William Goldstein came to Murfreesboro from Lithuania in 1885. In 1900, he purchased the brick building on the southeast corner of the Square that became his store for decades. (C.B. Arnette, From Mink Slide to Main Street, p. 51-52). What are your favorite memories of Goldstein’s?

Screenshot - 3_15_2016 , 1_04_57 PM
The building formerly located at 208 S. Church Street, as it appeared in 1988. Built c. 1880, on the 1887 Sanborn map this is shown as a grocery store. Linebaugh Library and City Plaza now occupy this spot.

Screenshot - 3_15_2016 , 1_08_39 PM
Ransom Brothers & Co. mill & dam on the Stones River, c. 1930s. Image from the Tennessee State Library and Archives.

Screenshot - 3_15_2016 , 1_09_42 PM
Dave Cohen immigrated to the United States from Lithuania/Poland at the age of 25 in 1912. His first job in the US was peddling in Cannon County. After his brother Harry followed Dave to America and they accumulated the capital necessary to purchase a store building on the west side of the Square in the 1920s. Photo is from the Library of Congress, taken by Ben Shahn in 1935.

Screenshot - 3_15_2016 , 1_11_50 PM
North side of the Square, taken some point before the 1913 tornado. You can see the top of the Haynes Hotel in the upper left of the photo.

Screenshot - 3_15_2016 , 1_14_01 PM
Louis Flimin, whose store may be seen in this photograph of the 1913 tornado damage, owned a dry goods store in Murfreesboro. Born in Austria in 1869, he immigrated to the United States in 1890. He is listed in the 1900 census as living in Murfreesboro with his wife, Shelly and their 3 children, Birdie, Sadie, and Lena. By 1920, the Flimin family had left our community, showing up in the 1920 census in Lincoln County and in Chattanooga in 1923. Mr. Flimin is buried in the Monroe Jewish Cemetery in Monroe, Louisiana. (Photo from the Albert Gore Research Center)

Screenshot - 3_15_2016 , 1_18_31 PM
View of the post office (now the home of the Center for the Arts) from the 1930s or 1940s. (Image from the Albert Gore Research Center.)

Screenshot - 3_15_2016 , 1_25_53 PM
The former Rutherford Health Department building, still located at 303 N. Church Street, was built in 1931 by James Gamble Rogers. It was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1992, and is an important example of the Commonwealth Fund of New York’s public health initiatives.

Screenshot - 3_15_2016 , 1_28_58 PM
This photograph of the National Woman’s Party Headquarters in Nashville, Tennessee, shows Mrs. Walter C. Jackson of Murfreesboro, Tennessee (beneath the red arrow), a member of the party and likely a woman who worked for suffrage. (Image courtesy the Library of Congress )

Screenshot - 3_15_2016 , 1_32_25 PM
Rutherford County was known for its dairy industry. There were more than 25,000 milk cows in the county in 1928. The R.L. Smith Farm, seen here as depicted in the Handbook of Murfreesboro and Rutherford County, was located west of Murfreesboro on Franklin Pike. (Photo from the Handbook of Murfreesboro and Rutherford County)

Historic Homes In Murfreesboro

If you’ve been in Murfreesboro more than a moment you know we’ve got some of the most beautiful historic homes in Middle Tennessee. What’s the story behind some of those majestic mansions on Main? Thanks to The Heritage Center Of Murfreesboro & Rutherford County we’ve got the history on some of these houses here :


This home on East Main Street in Murfreesboro was built after 1911 for John Murphy Butler and his wife, Lillian. Mr. Butler was an important member of the community, serving as the Chairman of the Chamber of Commerce and also as chairman of the group that persuaded Carnation Milk Co. to come to Murfreesboro. He also recognized the importance of aviation, being chairman of the group to locate Sky Harbor Airport in the county. Mr. Butler died in 1941 and is buried at Evergreen Cemetery in Murfreesboro.

(information from Charles Byron Arnette, Those East Main Street People and Their Houses, p. 96-99.)


This building on East Main in Murfreesboro was built in c. 1935 for Mr. and Mrs. Tom B. Cannon. They purchased the property in 1934 and tore down the house that was on it, building instead this Tudor-style home. The architect was C.K. Colley, who designed it in such a way that the home could be divided into apartments. The builders were Morgan and Bell of Murfreesboro.

(Information from Charles Byron Arnette, Those East Main Street People and Their Houses, p. 140.)


This home on East Main Street was once the home of Alfred J. Brandon and his family. Mr. Brandon was an educator, and he organized the Brandon Training School in Wartrace in 1896. The school later moved to Tullahoma and then Shelbyville prior to Mr. Brandon taking a position with the Tennessee Educational System and moving to Murfreesboro.

To learn more about the Brandon School, visit (Information on Mr. Brandon from Charles Byron Arnette, Those East Main Street People and Their Houses, p. 182-183).


This home on East Main was built in 1896 for William Bell, the man who founded Bell Jewelers in Murfreesboro. The 1900 census tells us that Mr. Bell lived in this home with his wife (Nettie) and their 6 children (ages 4 -17). Mr. Bell, born in 1857, died in 1937 and is buried at Evergreen Cemetery.

(Information from C.B. Arnette, Those East Main Street People and Their Houses; the 1900 census; and death records.)


James Crockett Mosby lived in this house on East Main at the time of his death in 1926. Mosby enlisted in Co. I, First (Maney’s) Tennessee Infantry, CSA, in April 1861. After being captured following the Battle of Missionary Ridge in 1863, he was imprisoned in Rock Island Prison for the remainder of the Civil War. Buried at Evergreen Cemetery, he was the last surviving member of the Rutherford Rifles at the time of his death.

(Information from Barry Lamb, Rutherford County’s Civil War, p. 81-82.)


This house on East Lytle is associated with the family of Sarah McKelley King. King worked with other women to help save Oaklands Mansion and the Rutherford County Courthouse. In 1983, she was elected President General of the National Society of the Daughters of the American Revolution.

To learn more about Rutherford County’s women for Women’s History month, visit


This home on East Main was originally built in 1902 as a dormitory for the Mooney School. Prior to that, the land was part of 229 acres that Matthias Murfree inherited from his father, Colonel Hardy Murfree. The house is part of the East Main Historic District, listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

(Information from C.B. Arnette, Those East Main Street People and Their Houses.)


This home on East Main was built in c. 1908 for Charles B. Ragland. Mr. Ragland moved to Murfreesboro in 1900 and formed a wholesale business with Henry King. He was also a charter member of Central Christian Church. In 1919, he moved to Nashville. The home is part of the East Main Historic District.


Home where Mary N. Murfree was living with her sister, Fannie, in 1910. The home is part of the North Maney Avenue Historic District.


This home, located in the East Main Historic District, was built c. 1895 for James Monroe Avent. Mr. Avent was a partner in the firm Overall & Avent with Stanley Overall. The firm managed a limestone and mine quarry in Summitville, Tennessee and had a store on West Main Street that sold wire fencing. Mr. Avent died in 1930 and is buried in Evergreen Cemetery with his wife, Lena Frierson Avent.


This home, located on East Main in Murfreesboro, was built in 1910 and designed by Nashville architects Fletcher and Bell for George and Tempe Swoope Darrow. Tempe’s mother, Elizabeth T. Swoope, had bought Oaklands Mansion at auction in 1884.

This home on East Main was built in the 1840s for Ivy J.C. Haynes and was remodeled in the 1880s. Mr. Haynes owned a grocery store on the east side of the Square before the Civil War. Brig. Gen. Roger Hanson of the 2nd Kentucky Infantry/Orphan Brigade was brought to this house after being wounded at the Battle of Stones River, and he died in the house on January 4, 1863. Mr. Haynes died in 1887, and is buried in Old City Cemetery.

This house, known as Big Holly, was one of the first houses to be built in Maney’s Addition, a real estate development started by Maj. Lewis Maney as a financial venture following the Civil War. Although not originally built in the Queen Anne style, it was renovated to the Queen Anne style sometime in the 1890s. Adeline Maney lived in this home in the 1890s.


The John C. Spence house (503 N. Maple) was placed on the National Register of Historic Places on August 23, 2004. You may know John Spence from his Annals of Rutherford County, in which he chronicled life in Murfreesboro during the 19th century. Spence operated a hardware and grocery store on the Square, and built the Cedar Bucket Manufactory.


Oakhurst, built in c. 1880 and home to attorney Leland Jordan and his family until 1913.

Thanks to The Heritage Center of Murfreesboro and Rutherford County for all these photos and information.