Lost Morehead Through Pictures

We remember those places of our youth that will never be again.

In the name of progress and without any planning, Morehead like other smaller communities in America ignored and discarded many of its physical links to the past. Tremendous changes occurred in Morehead resulting in the destruction or abandonment of many historic buildings which had provided shared link to a common history. In their place, "strip" malls and box stores sprung up without architectural character or community control. Main Street's vitality and consequently the town's center core (its heart) mortally was wounded and the community's spirit has never recovered from that loss of a familiar and inviting space.

This is a photo tribute to that Morehead now gone. Photos of places like people help us recall our past. Once a bustling center of activity, Main Street is a shell of its past. Prior to the invasion of outside entrepreneurs, Main Street was the locus of life in Morehead. Here we did our business, exchanged gossip, gawked and talked. Now it is a place to be avoided or only endured because you are going somewhere else.

Photo number one shows Battson's Drugs at the corner of College Boulevard and Main. This was a must stop for anyone seeking good frys and cokes and learning the latest gossip about what happened over the weekend.

Photo number two shows the Mills Theater next to Battson's. This is one of two theaters which operated in downtown Morehead. The smaller of the two, I only recall that it was small and dark. Of course, we also had a drive-in movie house which we often went to during the summer.

Photo number three shows a large white frame house just beyond Helwig's gas station. This house certainly will bring back memories for those who knew Elwood Allen. Several of my high school classmates (and later college) and I would invariably be found at Elwood's magazine and smoke shop located in this house. Elwood was a magnate to us. He was outrageous in manner and although a member of one of Morehead's most prominent's families, he was somewhat of a social outcast. He was simply divine. He was the first person to talk candidly and knowledgeably to me about the Allen-Tolliver feud.

We would sit with Elwood on the porch in front of his shop and he would regale us with stories about the "high and mighty" of Morehead. As the leading citizens drove by, Elwood, with cigar stub in mouth, would unleash a humorous tirade about the person's secrets and weaknesses. Thereafter we would never look at Morehead's "ruling class" with the deference we had previously provided them. We loved his stories and we didn't care whether they stretched the truth or were out right tales. We also loved his stories of his being a teacher at a Hollywood studio "high school" during the war years. He knew many of the child stars and loved to tell stories about them. This was my first touch with "glamour."

We enjoyed going into the "back room" at Elwood's and looking at the girlie magazines. We purchased our smokes there and a coke to enjoy while Elwood performed. His smoke filled laugh, wonderful vocabulary and wit entertained us for hours. I miss Elwood dearly and often visit his grave in the Lee Cemetery on my return trips to Morehead.

Photo number 4 reminds me of the importance of Main Street for conducting business. You can just see the K-U sign just beyond the Midland Trail hotel. A stop at K-U was a monthly occurrence for those paying the "electric" bill. I recall going there often with my Aunt.

Photo number 5 shows another parade up Main Street.

Photo number 6 shows Jerry's, our high school hang out and one of stations in a high school student's "stations of the cross" that was performed "religiously" every Saturday evening in our very clean and polished cars. The other stations included the Dairy Queen, Dairy Cheer, and several drives through campus, and a visit often to the bootleggers for a six pack. Jerry's was a preferred hangout because it was next to the roller rink (yes, we had one), the parking lot was rather dark (to drink a beer and cuddle with your sweetie), and it had curb service.

Photo 1: Main Street at the corner of College Boulevard around 1946.
Photo 2: Everyone loves a parade or at least they did in 1956 as the college band marches by the old Mills Theater.
Photo 3: White frame building beyond Helwigs Gas Station was the site of Elwood Allen's Smoke Shot and Magazine Store.
Photo 4: Main Street in 1950 showing Midland Trail Hotel and Kentucky Utilities just beyond.
Photo 5: Parade on a cool Fall day.
Photo 6: Our Happy Days hangout. Jerry's on Main Street with car hops.

Lost Businesses and Historic Structures

Photo 7: Main Street (around 1950) when it was tree lined and straight as an arrow.
Photo 8: Alfrey's Gulf Station (a classic facade), on West Main in the 1950's.
Photo 9: The Bruce, known affectionately by some locals as the no-tell motel in the 1960's.

Photo 10: Claude Brown's on East Main where one purchased a new Buick or Pontiac in the 1950's. For other information on Claude Brown, click here.

Photo 11: Tourist Camp, west Main Street
Photo 12: In 1946, eight Passenger Trains a Day to downtown Morehead
Photo 13: People's Hotel across from the Train Station
Photo 14: People's Hotel burns to the ground in 1946
Photo 15: Historic facade of the old Administration building on Morehead college campus, part of the original historic quad, destroyed in the "modernization" program on campus in the 1960's.
Photo 16: Historic headquarters of the Morehead & North Fork Railroad, in ruins through neglect.
Photo 17: In 1932, a cow, lower left of picture, grazes in a field in front of the Breckinridge School.
Photo 18: Newly constructed jail in 1939 - part of a WPA project. Many such jails were built during this time period throughout eastern Kentucky using native limestone.
Photo 19: Old Rowan County Courthouse with tower and beautiful Victorian details. Tower was removed because it was sinking into the ground and most of the original architectural details have been removed. Construction started in 1875.
Photo 20: Cars with large tail fins on Main Street.

 

If you have additional photographs of of Morehead past, please send them to me via e-mail (or e-mail me for my postal address) and I will add them to this page.

 

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