That other Russell house in Farragut

Beth KinnaneFarragut, Our Town Stories

When most folks in Farragut think of a house named for a Russell family, the first thought is likely of the Avery Russell House. Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the Avery Russell House is located at the corner of Kingston Pike and Campbell Station Road. It is now owned by the Town of Farragut and being refurbished as the Campbell Station Inn.

Originally built by Col. David Campbell, the inn/stagecoach station was eventually purchased by Matthew Russell, one of the earliest settlers in Farragut’s history. For generations, the site was used as a home for the Russell family. One of his descendants, also named Matthew Russell, grew up in the house and eventually owned a home just a stone’s throw east on Kingston Pike.

Known locally as the Matthew Russell House, it is still standing up behind the Taco Bell in Farragut (please note: the home is in private ownership, so don’t go knocking asking for a tour). Matthew Lee Russell opened a grocery story on Kingston Pike in 1919, not far from his home. He and a brother had originally opened a grocery in Concord in the mid-1880s before he opened the store on the pike.

Inside the Russell Food Store in 1930. Frank Russell, Sr., Claiborne Bailey with Curtis Candy Co., Walter Tillery. (Photo Credit: Knox County Library Digital Archives).

The Knoxville Sentinel reported on June 15, 1922, that the original store was washed off its foundation in a storm when nearby Turkey Creek flooded the area:

The heavy rain and wind storm that visited this section Tuesday night did much damage to farm lands and growing crops, washing away fences and in some instances shocks of wheat were carried away by the swollen creeks. Also, much damage resulted to the Kingston Pike, which is being graded and macadamized as a part of the Dixie Highway. Perhaps the greatest loss to any individual was that to ‘Squire’ M. L. Russell, whose store on the Kingston Pike near the Farragut school was almost washed away by the torrent of rain that caused a quick rise of the creek nearby, flooding the store and moving the building from its foundation.

It’s hard to imagine this area of Kingston Pike a century ago, when it was still a dirt road, easily turned into a mudslide by a gullywasher. And the creation of the Tennessee Valley Authority and the building of dams across East Tennessee to control flood waters were still over a decade away.

The store was eventually moved to another nearby location and passed in ownership to Matthew’s son, J. Frank “Doodle” Russell, and then on to Doodle’s son, J. Frank “Doc” Russell, Jr. Another Sentinel story from August 25, 1975, tells of the Russell family celebrating 56 years of the store’s existence. The festivities included a Bicentennial theme, and family and employees were planning to dress circa 1919 when the store first opened. Throughout its history, the Russell Food Store was a popular hangout for students at nearby Farragut High School.

Beth Kinnane is the community news editor for

Source: Knox County Library Digital Archives

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