Gardens to Gables

Discovering a Familiar Stranger: Sewell Shop, Clark County, KY

The familiar landscape is the one that often receives the least notice. But when that landscape changes, the disorientation strikes with ferocity, and a palpable sense of loss. For all  my love of crossroad communities – places not quite a town, grown organically at the intersection of two roads – the one closest to me is a stranger.

The Crump-Dykes Store at Sewell Shop in 1976. Photo courtesy the Kentucky Heritage Council.

The Crump-Dykes Store in 1976. Photo courtesy the Kentucky Heritage Council.

Sewell Shop, located on US 60 about nine miles east of Winchester, is technically in Clark County, but the boundary line of Montgomery County is but a breath away. Some of my earliest memories of car travel center on US 60, and at a young age, I knew that the Sewell Shop intersection meant home was near. US 60 intersects with the Thompson Station Road (originally a turnpike that run from Schollsville to Sewell Shop to Wades Mill) at Sewell Shop.

Sewell Shop, shown on the Sideview USGS quad map.

Sewell Shop, shown on the Sideview USGS quad map.

Named for the Sewell family, who settled in the area in the mid-19th century, the community’s landscape was defined, for me, by a handful of houses, and a brick store building. Known as the Crump-Dykes Store, it was built in 1892, and bought by the Crump family in 1896.

The store had double doors, and benches on either side in front of the large display windows.

The store had double doors, and benches on either side in front of the large display windows.

I never remember the store being in business, but my mother once bought straw hats there for my three older siblings. It was part of the fabric of my weeks, however, as trips to Lexington were frequent, and I was always in back-seat land, staring out of the window (on the rare occasions when I didn’t have my nose in a book).

The site of the store is now an overgrown lot.

The site of the store is now an overgrown lot.

My father recalls driving out to Sewell Shop at the age of 16 in his brand-new 1954 Willys (Willys-Overland Motors company) Jeep. The jeep was purchased from Robert Earl Ensor on Grassy Lick for $1,300 – my father was an only child, and somewhat spoiled (but in best possible way. I might add that I did not receive a new car when I turned 16. I received no car…).

The garage (1950s-1960s) at Sewell Shop.

The garage (1950s-1960s) at Sewell Shop.

The Coca-Colas at Crump’s Store were in glass bottles, and swam in a vat of icy water that threatened to freeze off your fingers when you fished one out – but they were, according to my father, the best tasting Cokes in the world.

The Sewell House, set on its path of becoming a ghost.

The Sewell House, set on its path of becoming a ghost.

On the same side of the road is an old concrete block garage and a two-story frame I-house that I have watched disintegrate over the last few years. The decay started with a hole in the roof of the ell, and now the rafters at the front of the house are also visible. It was a Sewell House, and likely dates from the 1870s or a bit later.

This is the view I see when I crest the top of the hill on 60, headed toward home.

This is the view I see when I crest the top of the hill on 60, headed toward home.

I stopped to take photos of the old store building in 2008, one of the rare occasions that I beat the bulldozer. I still look for it when I drive by – and I suppose I will soon look for the large white frame house being left to crumble apart. Nothing stays the same, as much as we want it to – and all we can do is capture small moments and celebrate the beautiful illuminations of life as they occur. And always, be aware of that which is familiar and part of the background – it touches you more than you realize.

 

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4 Thoughts on “Discovering a Familiar Stranger: Sewell Shop, Clark County, KY

  1. Joan MacDowell on June 21, 2015 at 8:34 am said:

    Great post….I have had a similar experience,going back to where I grew up. I felt that if I concentrated long enough, all the fond memories would come back…the smell of the air on a summer day, the sound of kids playing Kick the Can at dusk….but most of all, the overwhelming feeling of feeling happy and so secure. Time flys and things change but I am locking those memories in my mind and feeling so grateful for the childhood I got to experience.

    • Janie-Rice Brother on June 22, 2015 at 9:16 am said:

      Thank you Joan! I agree – I try to tuck the memories and feelings away – and write about them. It’s the only way I know to try and capture it.

  2. Debra Smith Renard on July 11, 2015 at 3:50 pm said:

    Hi Janie, I was just driving through here two days ago looking for a particular cemetery. I know it is supposed to be (was?) on Mt. Sterling Road. Your topo map above has one marked just east of Sewell Shop and Wades Mill (just past Green Acres Rd, I believe) on the south side of US 60. A close-up satellite view of where that cemetery is marked on the topo doesn’t show anything that looks likely. I hope the cemetery still exists! Do you know anything about it? The cemetery I am trying to locate is the Old Miller Graveyard, but it is not the Miller one on Muir Ln off of Goose Creek Rd. I also know there are 3 cemeteries north on Wades Mill Rd, but it is not any of those. In the one I am looking for, besides 4 Millers, there are also 4 Sewells buried there, so it occurred to me it might be near Sewell Shop. Thanks for any hints you can share!

    • Janie-Rice Brother on July 13, 2015 at 4:38 pm said:

      Debra,
      The one you see to the east (on the south side of 60) is on my cousin’s farm, and is the burial place of members of the Chenault/Prewitt family, so I don’t think that is the one for which you are looking. I don’t know of any others along US 60 in that general vicinity, but I will send an e-mail to one of the Clark County historians I know to see if they can help. I will let you know what I find out! Thanks for reading!

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