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Posted on January 13, 2016 at 2:27 PM by Ken Kocher
The Rock Filling Station, the Rock Front Service Station, the Rock Store… It has been known by several names, but for most of its lifetime the little gas station and store at the point created by N. Main Street and North Avenue was officially the Rock Service Station. We have yet to uncover the year it was built or who the first owner was. We do know it arrived between 1941, when the fire insurance maps show a wood cutting yard on the site, and 1945, where it received a passing mention in a Madisonian article about the good health of “Mrs. Jim Pinnell who lives just below the Rock Filling Station.”
When Stanley H. Booth, Jr. returned from his service in the Army Air Corps, he purchased the building that one person described as looking like a Baby Ruth candy bar. Booth sold “Gas – Oils – Grocery – Produce [and] Poultry.” This was his livelihood for several years until he joined the E.F. Drew Company as a salesman of chemical products. Joe T. Penick took the reins starting in 1950.
Penick appears to have started out leasing the land, because after five years he ran an ad in the newspaper selling all the stock and fixtures in the place. A month later, Booth advertised the station for rent. Either Joe changed his mind or came back to the business because he ran it through the late 1960s. He and his wife, Dap, are fondly remembered by current Madisonians who grew up buying their candy and cokes at “the Rock Store.” Sadly, Joe died suddenly in 1969. Mrs. Penick operated the station until 1971 when she retired and put it up for sale. It had various uses such as appliance repair until it was slated for demolition in 1978. In a letter to the editor, Nancy Adcock lamented loss of “one of our older landmarks.” However, this loss did lead to a Greenspace gain.
Land located at the corner of N. Main Street and North Avenue was gifted to the City in 1978 by W. R. and Ruth Still Cox in memory of their daughter for the Marilyn Cox Elliott Memorial Park. Through the work of several people, including City Attorneys Jimmy Carter and Roy Lambert, and Neal Vason, Jr., Madison Investment Company agreed to sell additional land to Mickey Channell to move the Corner Pantry further north on N. Main Street to make room for the park. Mr. Channell donated additional land for the park when Department of Transportation plans for road improvements removed 50 feet of land donated by the Coxes. It was not until 1987, however, that the Three Seasons Garden Club dedicated the Marilyn Cox Elliott Memorial Park. The ceremony was attended by club members, city and county officials, and members of Boxwood and Magnolia Garden Clubs.
Marilyn Ruth Cox, a well-known civic and social leader in Madison, was born in 1931. She graduated from North Fulton High School and attended Randolph-Macon College and Agnes Scott College before marrying James Elliott, Jr. in 1963. They purchased and restored the Roger-Shields House on N. Main Street in 1966. She was a member of the Atlanta Historical Society, the Atlanta Arts Alliance, the High Museum of Art, the National Trust, and was a charter member of the Georgia Trust for Historic Preservation. Mrs. Marilyn Cox Elliott died suddenly in 1974 following a sudden illness.
The Marilyn Cox Elliott Memorial Park created in her honor continues to be a pleasing gateway to the City of Madison.
Madison Moments, a weekly blog highlighting Madison's rich history, is a creation of the Madison Historic Preservation Commission in collaboration with other City Boards and Departments. This installment was a joint effort by the Historic Preservation Commission and the Greenspace Commission It waswritten by Ken Kocher, HPC staff, and Mollie Bogle, GCS staff.
Tag(s): Stanley Booth Jr., Rock Service Station, Lyn Hunt, Joe Penick, Gas Stations, Cox Elliott Park, Automotive History
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