February 6 by: Kris Trolinger Brummett
As promised, here’s a chunk of verbiage about DuPontonia/Lakewood. First off, I don't have many quality photos of this area in the earlier years. I will share a few in the comments. The photo I chose comes from the inside of Clay’s pool hall which was located in DuPontonia and remembered for having the best hamburgers (and according to the photo being stern about ABSOLUTELY NO CREDIT!)!
In 1918, the area we call Lakewood was a part of the powder plant property. Do you remember me talking about the house that was built in record time? If not, go here
This record-breaking house was located at 31st and Hadley (Old Hickory Blvd. today). This address was smack-dab in the heart of what we call Lakewood today. Of course the house is no longer standing. This area in 1918 was considered a part of the entire powder plant property which extended to today’s Hermitage Golf Course. It didn't have its own identity in 1918. The area wouldn’t receive a proper name until the 1920s when a contest was held to officially give it a name. Beloved DuPont High School English teacher, Miss Lena Cowgill, won the prize which was a freaking CAR. Name chosen? DuPontonia. It would remain DuPontonia until 1961 when the name was changed to present- day Lakewood.
The Old Hickory News 15th anniversary of DuPont returning to the area noted that DuPontonia was equipped with “32 different retail enterprises, including furniture shops, department stores, dry goods stores, restaurants, barber shops, jewelry store, bakery, food stores, automobile dealers, hotel, newspaper and printing plant, filling station, lawyer’s office, coal yard, dry cleaning, chiropractor’s office and motion picture theater.” The Hillcrest Hotel opened in 1927 (26th and Old Hickory Blvd). When I asked 98-year old Bryan Jakes if he ever went to the theater, he said, “OH YES! I went every time a Western would play.” Jakes told me that he thinks WWII changed DuPontonia forever as so many people were called up to duty from the area. He may be right even though so many of you who grew up in this area during the post WWII era remember DuPontonia fondly.
A mass exodus to DuPontonia occurred in the latter part of the 1940s when DuPont began selling the houses in the Village. According to DuPont’s March 28th, 1946 press release about the sale of the village, 876 “dwellings” and 478 houses were sold for removal. I’m not sure what “dwellings” refer to unless it was the temporary housing. These houses scattered to the wind. I recently found out that one of them landed in Shelbyville and my own father grew up in it. How strange is that? It’s like the Wizard of Oz without witches, but with a ton of wind-swept houses. Of course many of the houses stayed local (DuPontonia, Inglewood and Madison) and it was not unusual for school children who weren’t paying attention to their teacher to gaze out the window and see a house floating down the street. One of these houses was snatched up by Earlene and BJ Jenkins. Before the sale, the couple and their family were living at 1306 Lawrence. Initially, they were saving money to move to DuPontonia and build their own home. They had saved a whopping $1500. When the opportunity came to buy their home on Lawrence from DuPont in 1948, they couldn’t pass up the chance. Buying the home and moving it was more economical than building a new home. So, they bought it for $500 and paid $600 to move it to a lot they owned in DuPontonia. Left over money was used to add on to the kitchen. Earlene lived in this house until recently. Since she just turned 100 years of age, I have unofficially declared her the queen of the Centennial. She will be honored in a play being produced at Lakewood Theater by our own 1920s evening dresses for sale Dawn Landes and Creighton Irons. See their page https://www.facebook.com/boomtownMUSICAL/ .
Kathy McClung Carneal shared some of her memories of DuPontonia earlier today and they included Corley’s beauty shop, a Studebaker dealership, Hamblen Chevrolet, a dress shop called LeRoys, and the Ben and Franklin Five and Dime. There was also Becker’s Bakery and Clay’s Pool Hall. Please add your own memories if you have them!
Resources (which include photos in comments): Old Hickory Garage, Austin Kinzer, DuPontAlumni.org , and Old Hickory News 1939.