Old opry building triggers memories for locals
Brookhaven has no shortage of old buildings, but if you drive down Hwy. 550 one stands out.
Today it’s The Pampered Girl Hair Salon, but in a former life it was a bustling opry house. The Ole 550 Opry House is owned by Mike Case now and was built by his father Harrison Case. Originally it was a barn, he said, but farming didn’t hold Harrison’s attentions for long. For decades it sat abandoned until Earl Ward approached him about turning it into a place where his daughter Lisa could sing.
Lisa Ward Purdie remembers it fondly.
“It was a really cool thing for the community,” she said. “Bring your kids. No alcohol. Clean fun.”
It was successful, too. From the family’s stories, it seems the Ole Opry House was packed every Saturday. Artists from as far away as New Orleans came to play. It was broadcast live on the radio. Even some local TV personalities came to see it.
The Ole Opry House is an old building. It hints, as old buildings often do, of the stories made and lives lived.
Earl died, Lisa went on to college, and in a few years the Ole Opry House had faded into memory. But for Lisa and many others, it’s an important memory.
“There must have been hundreds and hundreds of people from the community” she said about a birthday party performed by Harold Luther Smith, “and we got a huge, huge cake. There was just a lot of cheering and a lot of happy faces. Harold put on quite a show that night. I think he broke two of the piano keys off of the keyboard when he put his foot up. It’s always a good show when you knock a few keys off.”