Fortner Furniture Company and the Giant Clock Mystery



Photo courtesy Special Collections, University of Memphis Libraries

For decades, one of the enduring landmarks along Summer Avenue was the giant round clock mounted on top of the old Fortner Furniture Company (most recently BoJo's Antique Mall) at the corner of Summer and National.

Once illuminated by neon numbers and hands, in recent years the huge clock was little more than a rust-covered (and -colored) disk overlooking the intersection. But still, it was something that almost everyone remembered, and like everyone else, I just assumed the clock was installed whenever the building was erected.

But then I found this old photograph, tucked away in the Memphis Press-Scimitar files at the University of Memphis Libraries Special Collections Department. As you can see, it's a fine image of the furniture store in its heyday, and it's dated on the back 1960. But what is obviously missing from the photo is the clock.

Now if you look carefully, the area above the building is smeared a bit. I don't know if that was a problem with developing the photograph — or did someone go to the trouble to "erase" the clock from the original image? An easy thing to do nowadays with PhotoShop, but not quite so easy with regular darkroom skills in the 1960s.

So that leaves us with something of a mystery. If the clock wasn't part of the original building, when was it added? And if somebody wanted it removed from this picture, why would they do so?

I'll let you ponder that.

Of course, it doesn't matter. I know that a local collector acquired the clock and hopes to restore it, but the old building it once adorned came tumbling down in recent months to make way for a Dollar General store. Or is it a General Dollar store? I just can't keep them straight ...

PHOTO COURTESY SPECIAL COLLECTIONS, UNIVERSITY OF MEMPHIS LIBRARIES

Edit ModuleShow Tags

Most Popular

Miss McKellar Lake 1974

Hard to believe, but women from around the Mid-South once competed for this illustrious title.
2015.08.26 01:51 PM

Remember the Alamo, but let’s not forget another one of Summer Avenue’s funky motels.

Not as architecturally significant as the Alamo Plaza, the Silver Horse Shoe was another Summer Avenue motel landmark for decades. And don’t forget the crazy-looking diner next door!
2014.10.21 08:39 PM

Rare Photo: Gladys Presley's Original Gravesite at Forest Hill Cemetery — Mother of Elvis Presley

2012.11.18 08:47 PM
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Related Stories

Meet the WREC-TV News Team from the 1960s

A posed studio photograph shows the WREC-TV news team from the 1960s. Most readers recognize a few faces, but the others are — so far — a mystery.
2015.08.30 07:34 PM

Miss McKellar Lake 1974

Hard to believe, but women from around the Mid-South once competed for this illustrious title.
2015.08.26 01:51 PM

Lost Memphis: The Linden Circle Theatre

Here’s how it looked in the 1940s. I don’t even want to show you how the same building — yep, it’s still there — looks today.
2015.08.18 12:04 PM

Add your comment:
Edit Module

Buy the Ask Vance Books

Edit ModuleShow Tags


Famed Memphis trivia expert Vance Lauderdale answers reader questions weekly here on his blog!

About This Blog

Ask Vance is the blog of Vance Lauderdale, the award-winning columnist of Memphis magazine and Inside Memphis Business. Vance is the author of three books: Ask Vance: The Best Questions and Answers from Memphis Magazine's History and Trivia Expert (2003), as well as Ask Vance: More Questions and Answers from Memphis Magazine's History Expert (2011) and Vance Lauderdale's Lost Memphis (2013). He is also the recipient of quite a few nice awards, the creator of several eye-catching wall calendars, and the only person we know with a vintage shock-treatment machine in his den. 

You can find him from time to time in the pages of the Memphis Flyer and MBQ, on WKNO television, and on Facebook. When he is not exploring the highways and byways of Memphis, he spends his time sleeping, napping, and dozing.

Got a question for Vance?  Email him here.

Find Vance's old blog posts (pre-April 2011) and comments here.

Be Vance's friend on Facebook:  facebook.com/vancelauderdale

Recent Posts

Archives

Feed

Atom Feed Subscribe to the Ask Vance Feed »

Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags