Thursday, June 19, 2008
Building renovations uncover artifacts
By SUE WATSON
There was lots of excitement at Jennie’s Flowers & Gifts a few weeks ago as boxes full of old bottles were discovered in the dirt below the flooring at the former Canton Chinese Restaurant.
Owners Irene Strickland and Betty Burch had the town abuzz with the discovery of flavoring extract bottles, ale bottles and wine or oil bottles, one ale bottle dating back to the 1850s.
The restaurant building is under renovation by the owners to expand the gift shop, Strickland said.
Tom and Lisa Phillips, who recently bought Colonsay Cottage in Holly Springs, drove down from Memphis to help with the excavation and identification work. He’s been digging for bottles since age 12.
He said most of the bottles in the shallow dirt found after the floor was removed were used to hold whisky, medicines, flavorings and pepper sauce.
Phillips said the pepper sauce was used liberally to mask the odor and flavor of spoiled meats prior to modern refrigeration practices. The pepper sauce bottles had cathedral designs that date the artifacts to the 1840s, he said.
He said the artifacts indicate the building could have been used at one time as a grocery or drug store.
The stash of bottles was discovered Wednesday night, June 4, as Jonathan Burch and David Fant with Hillcrest Homes were taking the floor up in the building.
Strickland is happy about the resurrection of history, common when old buildings are renovated in downtown areas.
The building most recently housed Canton’s Chinese Restaurant, and previously was used by Ferrell Moore Grocery store and Watkins Grocery.
Strickland and Burch purchased Jennie’s Flowers and Gifts in October 2004. Strickland is a retired home economics teacher from Potts Camp High School.
“We’ve tried to slowly add new lines and create a really nice gift shop for our town,” Strickland said.
With the added space, she said a greater variety of gifts can be offered.
“We really try to update our flower shop so we can stay on the cutting edge with our designs and be competitive with Tupelo and Memphis,” Strickland said.
More excitement at Jennie’s Flowers and Gifts came Thursday of last week when the shop held a book signing for Jerry Moore of Holly Springs, who released his first book, “Adventures of Little Jerry.”
Artist Ann Ostenson Seale, wife of Dr. Ben Seale Jr., joined Moore’s book signing with some prints of painting of Tyson’s, Phillips Grocery and the Depot.
Ann Seale is a recent graduate of the University of Mississippi School of Art where she obtained an MA in art. The Seales live in Jackson.
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