I grew up hardly aware of the constant machine roar emitting from the “silk mill,” located behind our W. Watauga Avenue apartment residence. The Tennessee Silk Mill, owned by Leon-Ferenbach Inc., commenced operations at 248-254 W. Market in 1917, supplying silk primarily for ladies’ clothing.
Recently, I examined some old city directories, reflecting on the large number and diversity of business establishments that were once a fixture in downtown Johnson City.
I receive immense satisfaction when readers share their Johnson City memories of yesteryear, especially if it’s an acquaintance from my past.
There is something nostalgic about a water-operated gristmill with its large wooden vertical overshot water wheel, persistently rotating to power the heavy millstones that grind the staple crops into fine meal suitable for cooking.
Just prior to Johnson City’s two-story Arcade being demolished in 1985, I visited the 62-year-old dying structure to pay my final respects.