This roadside landmark on U.S. Highway 341 is a remnant of a time when pecan stands, inspired by Stuckey’s, were popular stops for travelers. This sign identified Rigdon’s Pecan Station. A 1950s postcard for the business noted that they sold candies, novelties, and souvenirs, and of course, fresh pecans. At the time, a five-pound box of Schleys (papershells) was $3, five pounds of Stuarts and Success were $2.75, and five pounds of the largest papershell variety at the time, Mahans, would cost you a whopping $3.50. Coming from a “pecan family” myself, it’s one of my favorite signs in Georgia.
This landmark, visible on Georgia Highway 22 between Gray and Haddock, is an amazing survivor from a time when the roofs of rural barns were used to advertise myriad businesses and attractions. The “See Rock City” barns have become icons, but many other businesses were promoted in this way. This example advertises Knoxville-based Sterchi* Brothers Furniture Company [It Costs Less at Sterchi’s], which was the largest furniture store chain in the nation in the early 20th century, with over 650 stores in the Southeast. There are only a few of these Sterchi barns documented, to my knowledge, and most are in Tennessee. It is believed that most are at least 80 years old. [Several commenters have suggested to me that the roof was painted over at times, most recently with a Georgia Bulldog; I applaud the owners for saving this historic sign and am amazed that the paint (lead, no doubt) has survived all these years].
*- Pronounced stir-keys
If you’ve traveled US Highway 27 anywhere near Carrollton, you’ve likely noticed this barn, one of the most-photographed barns in Georgia. It advertises W. E. Johnson’s sweet potato curing and storage business. The Coca-Cola advertising has been tastefully restored.
Dick Kelly wrote, via our Vanishing Georgia Facebook group: I was born in 1942 and lived my early childhood a few miles south at the Centralhatchee community at my grandfather Burson’s home. Grandad and W. E. (Tater) Johnson were good friends and traded various and sundry items as did most country folk during that era. I remember, as a toddler, going with granddad in the horse and wagon to visit Tater to do their trading…Tater Johnson built the structure in 1940. The building incorporated a slated floor and sub-floor heating ducts, to regulate airflow, temperature, and humidity to cure sweet potatoes faster so that they would last through the cold winter. The storage house, with its brightly painted Coca-Cola advertisements, is still one of the most photographed landmarks in West Georgia…A local man, along with Coke officials, arranged for the creation of a collectible bottle honoring the Sweet Potato House. The bottles were sold for $15 each, and all 960 of them were sold out within 35 minutes. Sales of the bottle helped pay for the restoration of this landmark…Johnson’s Sweet Potato Curing Shed also has another claim to fame in this part of the state. The site at one time was a drop-off for area students attending Berry College in Rome, and this resulted in U.S. 27 being named Martha Berry Highway…