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Preserving the History of Oak Ridge, TN
February 21, 2019
February 21, 2019
By Susan Adkisson
I have had the pleasure of knowing Lloyd and Betty Stokes for many years. They, as well as others, have worked endlessly in preserving the history of Oak Ridge, TN. If you have the pleasure to visit Oak Ridge, you need to put this on your list of things to do! In September 2018, the new “Oak Ridge History Museum” opened in the Old Wildcat Den now known as the Midtown Community Center at 102 Robertsville Road beside red light #11 on the Oak Ridge Turnpike. Lloyd has stated that the Midtown Community Center is a historical place itself. It was built in 1945 and was a place where people went for bath houses and laundry due to the lack of water at many residences. The building later became the “Wildcat Den” in 1951, a hangout spot for students. When growing up we used to have dances at the Wildcat Den and I think it is a perfect place to learn about the Manhattan Project’s “human side”. The museum focuses on the history and how people lived in early Oak Ridge. They have many donated or purchased items, as well as some private collections on display. Some of these include displays of Oak Ridge Lt. Gen. Leslie Groves, a timeline of Oak Ridge, a 1940’s Dorm Room, and a model of the United Church – Chapel on the Hill. Lloyd included some items from his own private collection such as Boy Scout Uniforms, badges, patches, newspapers and pins. There is also furniture from the Alexander Guest House, a bag dispenser from McCrory’s store in Jackson Square, a telephone switchboard from Oak Ridge Associated Universities, Ed Westcott’s pictures, and records and equipment that disc jockey Bill Pollock used for tennis court dances and events at the Wildcat Den itself. There is a map of the city from 1945 where people can locate the “area” they used to live in. One of my favorites are the housing designs or “Alphabet Housing”. I have lived in an “A” and “B” house and also a “West Village” house. My brother lived in a “C” house and my brother in law in a “Flat Top”. It is so interesting to see the size of these homes and wonder “how in the world did 3 kids and their parents live in something this small!” We hope you will visit soon.