Make the Shops of Historic Madisonville Your Fall Excursion!

September 28, 2012 in Editorials

Historic Madisonville, Tenn., is a very welcoming town just a few blocks off Hwy 411 South. It was first settled by a garrison group from Virginia as the Old Fort Loudon, ordered by the Earl of Loudon, than Governor of Virginia. The garrison was led by Captains Demur and Stuart. In 1760, the Cherokee Indians, instigated by the French, captured the fort and it was burned. It had been the first structure in the area and first to be destroyed. The town was called Tellico for years until the purchase of the Hiwassee District. It was rapidly settled by the white settlers and in 1830 it was renamed Madisonville after James Madison.

Madisonville has lots of interesting history and is the county seat of Monroe County in Tennessee. Many of the original buildings are still standing, and this is where the vital main stream of business in the downtown district thrives. You will enjoy visiting Madisonville’s small quaint shops and eateries. The atmosphere and embellished buildings of yesteryear can take you back in time. As you stroll the nostalgic sidewalks, you will be drawn inside to investigate the treasures of the past and delicious dinner and pastries of today and find yourself enjoying a very relaxing day in a town you’ll put on your‘return often list!

I have navigated through Madisonville, just as you will soon, and I want to introduce you to some of the fine folks that sent you a special invite. Sandy’s Treasures may be your first stop, located just off Hwy 68 West, at 603 Old Englewood Rd. Owner Sandy Lane, retired school teacher, is enjoying the hunt for quality used furniture and home decor. Sandy believes everyone likes a change from time to time, and she is always looking for great selections for her customers. Lots of young couples find wonderful pieces of slightly used furniture for that first home or apartment and certainly welcome the great deals they have run across in good children’s furniture as well. Sandy looks for those great sought-after painted pieces, as well as nice mirrors, lamps, and other accessories.

When you are ready to leave Sandy’s Treasures, just ask and she’ll direct you toward the Historic Downtown Madisonville district. If you’re using your GPS, click in The Enchanted Wardrobe at 118 College Street S. and you’ll arrive in just minutes. You can’t miss this delightful shop, full of everything kids! Kathy Sneed, owner, and one of our former customers from Athens, just celebrated one year in her shop in Madisonville and she invites you to bring your children’s wear, birth through school age, and she will consign or trade with you for the sizes and accessories you need. Kathy keeps a good array of nursery furniture, toys, especially dolls and all kinds of apparel from casual to dressy. Kathy loves helping her customers and putting smiles on the children as well.

Next stop could be one of several, depending if you’re ready to take a lunch break, and if you are, we have the perfect cafe. Donna’s Old Town Cafe, “A flavor of the past” is located at 100 College Street and the corner of Main, across from the Historic Courthouse. Donna’s Old Town Cafe has been open for 18 years and specializes in those great foods from the past or as Donna says ‘a flavor of the past”! Donna’s is open from 7 a.m. – 3 p.m., Sunday – Wednesday and 7 a.m. – 9 p.m., Thursday through Saturday. If you’re early, you can enjoy their breakfast buffet and fruit buffet for dine in only. They offer breakfast Sunday through Frida,y 7 a.m. to 10:45 and Thursday nights 3 p.m. to close, and on Saturday 7a.m. to 1 p.m. For your lunch, Donna’s offers a hot lunch buffet as well as soup and salad buffet, with a special dinner buffet Friday and Saturday. They make box lunches for office, party, gatherings, or picnics. If you need catering for any occasion, Donna’s Old Town Cafe’ is ready to make your event or special occasion, even more special.

Now, you’re stuffed but you won’t have to walk far to some great treasures of the past at the Wren’s Cottage Antiques and Home, just across the street from Donna’s at 104A Main St., located in the original Kefauver Hotel, built in 1890. Owner Debbie Craven invites you to come in and check out her vintage antique furniture, smalls, and home decor. Debbie has been an avid collector since her childhood, and has owned several businesses from Bath, Ohio to S. W. Pennsylvania. Debbie and her husband moved to Monroe County in 1993. It wasn’t long after that Debbie’s antique and collectibles could be found in booths in several towns around the area. In fact, many dealers and friends are acquainted with Debbie from The Country Store, which was in Sweetwater, located inside the Flea Market grounds, for some 10 years. Julia and Ed Marlow, owners of that store, depended on and enjoyed Debbie’s assistance for several years so they could go to auctions and go on out of town buying trips. Don’t be surprised to run into our Busy Bee Friends, Julia and Ed when you visit Wren’s Cottage.

Debbie Craven expressed her joy in opening Wren Cottage, the shop she has dreamed about for years. She started out several months ago with a few booths, a number of consignee pieces, and her own selections; now she is in the process of expanding to accommodate several more booth dealers and wonderful consignments. In fact, former owner of “Welcome Back Antiques”, Mickey Allen, decided to close her cute little antique shop, located right next door, so she could spend more time with family and friends, so Mickey has moved her great finds to Wren Cottage Antiques & Home. Be sure to check out the great home and gifts, vintage clothing and accessories, some primitive pieces, quality furniture, and lovely kitchen retro ideas that are all useable as well. Numerous items are coming in daily, and going out just about as fast. Don’t miss visiting every week at Wren Cottage Antiques and Home, open Tuesday-Saturday 10-5 and Mondays by chance or appointment.

Make sure you check out the ladies apparel, shoes, and purses just a few doors down from Wren Cottage at The Gallery –A Shabby Chic Boutique. Gallery Boutique is a very special shop with very nice softly used upscale ladies dresses, slacks, blouses, skirts, shorts, jackets from casual to Sunday dress, and if you are planning a special party or have a wedding to attend, you’ll love their room with beautiful formal wear. The Gallery Boutique offers another small setting with lounge ware, linens, pillows, dining and bath accessories.

Visiting and supporting this boutique for their fine selections of items, is only one reason to stop. When you purchase an item in the Gallery – A Shabby Chic Boutique, you are helping Branches of Monroe County, Inc. – Helping Women and Children in Crisis. Their organization is made up of area businesses, churches, organizations, and volunteers. The Branches include The Women’s Center that provides supportive counseling, life skills training, employment assistance, and referrals to area providers for health care, educational opportunities, legal services, child care, and permanent housing. Another part of their program is The Oaks- Transitional Housing. Whether it be job loss, divorce, unexpected pregnancy or incarceration, etc. they are there to offer help.

Denise Hill, Director and founder of the Branches told me they have secured a safe house refuge for women and children facing domestic violence or other emergencies. They are accepting donations to help fund it at this time. They are non-profit and all monetary donations are tax deductible. They can be mailed to Branches of Monroe County, Inc., P. O. Box 64, Madisonville, TN 37354. The Branches of Monroe, Inc. have a second store – The Warehouse Thrift Store located at 276 Warren St., off New Hwy 68, across from 84 Lumber. All items for donation can be dropped off at this location.

Now, you have a smart new outfit, and you’re tummy tells you its time to check out the College Street Bakery, where everyone’s talking about the great cookies, pies, pastries, a wonderful line of breads, muffins and cakes. Owners, Ulrich & Linda Asmann live by their claim that they are competitively priced, no fancy packaging, no uppity name, just good baking like your grandmother made. All items are baked fresh daily and don’t hang around long when the aroma starts to drift downtown. The Asmanns are delighted to be expanding in the next few weeks, to include some antiques, gifts, and home decor. Their new name will be THE BLUE MOON when you see the new sign go up. You’ll know not only will you enjoy your dessert of the day, but can browse a while as well.

Now, if you’re on a ‘guy’ trip and been buying the great man-tiques and enjoying the print shop and other businesses around the square, you will be glad to know you can stay out of trouble – go two doors down from the Blue Moon (College Street Bakery) and ask Jay Rickman, of Madisonville Florist to help you select a nice bouquet for your lovely mate. Jay has been working in floral for more than 30 years and her selections are beautiful – so pleasing in variety of favorite colors to complement her special decor and accent her designs. She will fix you a rose bouquet if she doesn’t have a lovely silk arrangement ready for the taking. Ladies, Jay is available with fresh floral and silks for every occasion and is open Monday – Saturday, 9 to 5. Jay expresses her desire to always be there to assist you if you are out of town and have a need for a special occasion or even for the demise of a love one; call and she will have your special piece ready when you arrive or Madisonville Florist will delivered at your request.

All the shops invite you to check out the Madisonville group ad for phone numbers and invite you to join the fun downtown Oct. 12, for A Taste of Monroe, around the new courthouse annex. Be sure to enjoy the delightful shopping pleasures in Historic Madisonville. You’ll find numerous other stores and businesses and don’t forget, if you’re looking for a perfect antique store building, check out the one located at 104B Main Street, next door to Wren Cottage.

By Maxine B. Jones, Ocoee, Tennessee