Another piece of Clinton County history disappeared earlier this month, with the demolishing of the building known as the Clayton Smith Store, as well as the nearby Doc Smith house, in the Ida Community on US 127.
Located about eight miles north of Albany, the store was situated in between the intersection commonly referred to as “Seven Mile Islands” and the Cave Springs Baptist Church. Rita Smith Sparks, Clayton and Elizabeth Smith’s daughter, noted that in recent years, the vacant building had deteriorated to the point, especially in the roof area, that repairing it simply was not a feasible option.
“It was hard to see it when they began tearing it down that first day, thinking that most of my childhood memories are right there in that store,” Sparks said last week.
Clayton Smith first constructed a small block store building on what was then KY Highway 55 in 1945 to primarily serve the truck drivers and other construction traffic bound for Wolf Creek Dam. Unlike the most recent dam construction project, most of the workers and supplies,for the original dam project came from or through Clinton County. The majority of the rock fill for the dam came from the Mullins Quarry, located on what is now KY 639 but which was also then on KY 55.
Wolf Creek Dam construction began before World War II started, but construction was suspended until after the war. Clayton put up a small building to serve as a store and filling station. Soon demand led to an addition on the north side of the building and a restaurant was opened. Clayton’s wife Elizabeth and her sister did much of the restaurant work. In its heyday the restaurant would open at 4:00 a.m. and close at 9:00 p.m. Clayton would run the store all night when the trucks were running, and he would keep plenty of cash available to cash payroll checks on payday. He said that on payday he would run through two punch boards a night.
The building later served as a full-time garage and body shop, general store, fertilizer dealership, and finally an insurance office, which served as Clayton’s original State Farm Insurance office in the 1950s.
Clayton Smith became ill with tuberculosis in the early 1950s and stayed in a TB hospital in Glasgow for nearly two years. Sherman Melton helped run the store during that time.
Clayton served on the school board, the library board, and was involved in the real estate business for many years, as well as being a State Farm Agent. After Clayton moved his insurance office into Albany, Fred Smith operated the store until it closed in 1972.
Clayton’s and Fred’s father lived in the big white house north of the store. He was known as “Doc” Smith; not because he was a medical doctor, but his actual name was Doctor Hunter Smith, named for a prominent physician and Congressman from Doc’s native Cumberland County. The Guthrie Brothers store was across the street from Clayton’s store, and it still stands, barely visible among the undergrowth. Dr. W.J. Guthrie, who served as President of Citizens Bank of Albany, conducted his dental practice there and was also the last Ida, Kentucky Postmaster until the office was discontinued in 1940.
A crew member from the Patton Construction firm of Albany, worked last week in the final stages of the demolition of the Clayton Smith Store building in the Ida Community of central Clinton County.