Midway News - Personals and Comments
I want to remind everyone to call up your cousins and other kith and kin and remind them that the 42nd annual Midway Fall Festival will be Sept. 17 and 18. This is the event that old friends who have moved away from Midway and those who are still here can get together and catch up on old time. Check out the official Midway Fall Festival website at http://midwayfallfestival.org and see what will be waiting for you this year. ••• Last week, I talked about some of the major businesses in Midway’s history that have played a big part in the city’s economy. During the days of Starks Headache Powders, the paper mill, and the sewing factory, aka Tococo, Inc. the only revenue that the city made any major money would be off of property taxes and the distillery, Midway’s cash cow. In 1810, there were more than 2,000 distilleries operating in the state of Kentucky. There were around 240 distilleries operating in and around the Lexington area. The first records that show Midway having a distillery was in 1882 when Thomas S. Edwards founded the Glenarme Distillery. In 1882, the distillery changed hands, and in 1892, the distillery was acquired by S.J. Greenbaum and the distillery was called the Greenbaum Distillery. According to insurance records, the distillery consisted of the following buildings: The distillery was of brick construction with a metal or slate roof. The property included cattle pens 425 ft. north of the still, and five warehouses: Warehouse A — iron-clad with a metal or slate roof, located 140 ft. east of the still. Warehouse B – an iron-clad free warehouse with a metal or slate roof, located 275 ft. north of the still. Warehouse C — iron-clad with a metal or slate roof, located 150 ft. north of the still. Warehouses B and C were both heated by a boiler 50 ft. west. Warehouse D – iron-clad with a metal or slate roof, located 175 ft. NE of the still. Warehouse E – a free warehouse adjoining the office. It was frame and located 40 ft. south of the still. The distillery changed its name and owners at least three more times between 1912 and 1964, when it was shut down. It was in the late ’60s when the distillery area was given to Midway College. The college sold of the stills and other internal parts for scrap metal and eventually sold the land. The only structures left today are the water tower, the barrel storage building that has been converted into an apartment complex, and the still building now known as the Robin’s Nest building. It was during the times that Midway had an operating distillery that Midway received a tax on the barrels of alcohol that were aging in the warehouse. Although I can’t find any records showing just how much the city was getting from these taxes, I do remember that there was a time in this period when Midway residents didn’t have to pay for garbage pickup, the council never raised the property taxes, and the water and sewer bills were almost nothing. The city was always in pretty good financial shape. I do remember when the distillery closed down and everything was moved, the city council had to call special meetings to find new sources of revenue. The distillery business in Midway had a major influence on the city of Midway’s bank account, just as the new businesses that are coming to Midway in the future. We are fortunate that the city area that many of us grew up in will still be recognizable as needed growth and carefully planned development keeps Midway vibrant.