apartments in snow

Park Avenue Apartments
As We Remember Them

by Brad Hayes

I am not sure anyone knows the exact year the Park Avenue Apartments were built, but I have a pretty accurate time period. Most Trionites believe the apartments were built between 1919 and 1922. Trion resident Frank Bowers stated the apartments were built as early as 1919. Former Trion resident Elaine Holtberg stated her grandparents and parents remember the year the apartments were built as 1922. Elaine stated, “My father always said he and the Park Avenue Apartments were the same age,” Elaine’s parents were the late Loran Franklin Bynum (October 31, 1922-September 14, 2005) and Cleo Wike Bynum (May 23, 1922-August 9, 2005.)

1962 image
1962 aerial view looking south. Park Avenue is running up the middle with the apartments on the left. The hospital is lower right.

The Park Avenue Apartments are three brick buildings containing two-story apartments with two to a porch. Each one of the three brick buildings contains nine units for a total of 18 apartments. The first building, near the Trion Presbyterian Church, is numbered Apt. 23 through Apt. 40. The middle building holds Apt. 41 through Apt. 58. The last building, near the Trion River, is numbered Apt. 59 through Apt. 76. In recent years, the apartments were re-numbered with a three-digit 911 number.

A photograph of the back of the apartments taken from Allgood Street shows the March 1973 flood.

Loran F. Bynum’s parents, James Lester “Dock” Bynum (1902-1991) and Kathyrn “Kate” H. Bynum (1901-1961), lived in the building near the Trion Presbyterian Church. Elaine remembers living in the middle section in 1949 with her parents and brother, James F. Bynum. Later, Riegel began selling their company houses and the apartments. Mr. & Mrs. Loran Bynum had the opportunity to purchase their apartment. The apartments were sold by the porch, two to a unit. The Bynum’s did what most folks did during that time, they lived in one side and rented out the other side. My great uncle Robert Dewey Williams and great aunt Margaret Turner Williams purchased Apt. 49 and Apt. 50, and I recall them living there while I attended high school in the 1980s.

1973 view
Park Avenue view of the apartments in Summer 1973.

The Park Avenue Apartments were a great place to live for young families with kids in school. They were ideal for the employees of Riegel, and many elderly couples enjoyed the apartments in their retirement years. Everything was within walking distance from the apartments. Located across the street were the Trion Community Hospital, Trion Inn (Lelia E. Riegel Hall), and Town Hall. Also, down Dalton Street were Trion Elementary School (formerly the Old Trion Grammar School), Trion High School, Trion Recreation Department (formerly the Trion YMCA), and the ball fields.

recent view
Photograph taken in 2012. The apartments were demolished the following year due to damage from increased flooding.

Residents of Park Avenue Apartments could cross the river by way of the foot bridge or the old wagon bridge, which was rebuilt in 1938 connecting Park Avenue to the cotton mill. Several churches were in walking distance: Trion Church of Christ on First Street, Trion Presbyterian Church on Park Avenue Street, Trion First Baptist Church, and Trion United Methodist Church on DeForest Avenue.

The “Granddaddy of Them All” was the Big Friendly Store located in the center plaza of the cotton mill. Before the Big Friendly, the Trion Department Store was a brick building in the same area. Visitors to Trion and residents stayed in the Trion Plaza Inn and Ragland House, both located in walking distance of the cotton mill. The town of Trion had its own Trion Post Office, Trion Service Station, and Greyhound Bus Station. In the south end of the town, the Allgood House, Riegeldale Dairy, Riegeldale Tavern, and football/baseball field were available for the town residents.

The town of Trion has always been a great place to live, attend school, work, and raise a family. The Park Avenue Apartments will always be a part of our heritage, history, and memories.

Brad Hayes graduated from Trion High School in 1986, where he played baseball and football. After a distinguished career in Education, Brad became a full-time minister at Lookout Hall Church of Christ in Chattooga County. He also serves as Sports Editor and Historian for the Trion Facts, and as Vice President of Publicity for the Chattooga County Historical Society. He and his wife, Judy, have two sons, Luke and Jake. Brad kindly allowed Chattooga Photo History to reprint this essay.

Top three photographs by T. Emmett Nunn. Courtesy of Chattooga Library. Fourth photograph by Greg McCollum. Last photograph by Brad Hayes.

Copyright 2013 Greg W. McCollum.  All rights reserved.