In our continuing series celebrating Brentwood’s 50th anniversary, today we write about the evolution of “Noble Corner” (the corner of Old Hickory and Franklin Road).
In 1929, Alex Noble’s grandfather, Dr. Albert H. Noble, took a leap of faith and bought five acres of land at the corner of Old Hickory and Franklin Road for $5,000. Back then Franklin Road was gravel, and most of the commerce in Brentwood took place along Wilson Pike. All that stood next to the pharmacy was the Interurban station, the commuter train that ran from Nashville through Brentwood to Franklin. Today, that same corner houses Walgreens and it is the major intersection in Brentwood leading to most of the shopping, dining, entertainment, and hotels. The Nobel family was instrumental in transforming that corner into one of major commerce.
“My grandfather built a drug store on that corner in partnership with John Oden’s father,” said Alex Noble, who has served the community in many governmental capacities. “John Oden (who wrote the book, The Brentwood I Remember) used to work there as a kid.”
Noble was born in 1939, and he remembers the pharmacy becoming the gathering place for the people of Brentwood. There was also a gas station located there.
“It wasn’t just a pharmacy,” added Noble, “It was also a soda fountain that served sandwiches, popcorn, and beer. There was also a candy counter. They even had a Wurlitzer record player. My grandfather fixed it up real nice with green and silver painted cabinets. He served popcorn and beer to the men who paved Franklin Road while they were working on it.”
When his father, Glenn Noble, returned from World War II, he came back with the idea of expanding the pharmacy into a restaurant. The family ran it until 1951 when Noble’s father decided to take up farming outside of Franklin.
“We sold the restaurant, but not the building,” noted Noble. “Then after two years, Dad decided he’d had enough of farming. He built a hotel next to the restaurant in 1954. And he also started a construction company with John Oden’s oldest brother, Martin Oden, Jr.”
It was a busy time, Noble’s father would build houses during the day, and then close out the hotel at 10:00 pm at night. Noble’s mother would run the hotel during the day.
Eventually, there was also a grocery store, which was converted into a hardware store, and the pharmacy became a restaurant. Noble’s aunt inherited the property to the south of the hotel, and she built what is now The Perch as a post office, as well as the strip center behind The Perch.
As Noble Corner (as it was called) grew, so did the land around it. Across the street was a popular night club called The Palms, and Pewitt’s Service Station and Auto Center. The city began to develop around the corner, and everyone hung around the restaurant, post office, and shopping areas.
“My father’s construction company did a lot of the building,” said Noble, “including the shops that my aunt developed. That development also housed the first bank in Brentwood, Harpeth National Bank.”
After building the original drug store, Noble’s grandfather and grandmother remained on the land, living on a house that his father built for them.
“The house was moved several times,” added Noble, “but my grandfather lived in it until the day he died. It still sits on the land. It is a florist shop that sets off Franklin Road over by the old shopping center that is still in use, by Papa John’s Pizza.”
In the 1980s, the restaurant was converted into an ERA Real Estate office, but the hotel remained. And the family continued to own the land. Then it all changed with the new millennium. Walgreen’s bought the land that housed the restaurant and hotel, tearing it all down in 2001, and turning it into one of their pharmacies. There was some controversy when the land was first purchased, but progress won out. Ironically, the building becoming what it was originally.
“It was quite a place,” said Noble.