Dr. Fred Stone Sr. Hospital – One Of The Filming Locations Of October Sky

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At first, it looks like nothing more than an ordinary six story brick structure located in Oliver Springs, Tennessee. But as one gets closer, this person realizes that the castle-like appearance is the result of an unplanned design that someone accidentally came up with.

This structure was home to a doctor who ran this place as a one doctor hospital. This person was the retired U.S. Army physician Fred Stone Sr. (1887–1976) who saved many lives during the 1940s, 1950s, and 1960s.

Dr Fred Stone Sr. Hospital. Author: Brian Stansberry CC BY 3.0

To the list of saved lives, one can easily add the 5,000 babies Stone delivered while running this hospital. Those who wonder about the hotchpotch design of this structure can easily satisfy their curiosity by knowing that Fred Stone Sr. expanded the building room-by-room and floor-by-floor in his spare time.

Irregularly built northeast wall. Author: Brian Stansberry CC BY 3.0

Fred Oscar Stone was his full name and he was born in Claiborne County, Tennessee, in 1887. His role model was his grandfather Samuel Stone, himself a hard-working country doctor. Fred as a child accompanied his grandfather on calls and this served as the basis for inspiration upon which Fred started to build his career.

Stethoscope used by Dr Fred Stone. Author: Brian Stansberry CC BY 3.0

At the age of 19, Fred decided to leave Claiborne County, moving first to New Mexico, then after a few years he traveled to live with relatives in Oregon. Here, Stone saved up the money he earned working in hops vineyards. He returned to East Tennessee and enrolled in Lincoln Memorial University Medical School in Knoxville, from which he graduated in 1916.

Stone’s Oak Ridge security badge. Author: Brian Stansberry CC BY 3.0

He later would join the U.S. Army Medical Corps at the height of World War I. During this period he was awarded the British Military Cross for actions performed at Bucquoy in August 1918.  He decided to purchase a large plot of land in Claiborne County, after retiring from the army.

Viewed from the southwest. Author: Brian Stansberry CC BY 3.0

Here he began to build a large stone mansion embedded into a cliff-side that sadly burned down in 1975. After the Second World War was over, Stone devoted himself primarily to his Oliver Springs hospital, which he had purchased in 1943.

The hospital’s facade. Author: Brian Stansberry CC BY 3.0

Fred Stone bought the property as a two story clinic from Dr. Jesse Thaxton Hayes. He hired a brick-mason named Joe Chittum to build an extension to the clinic, and asked his idle nurses and relatives to mix mortar and to help him during the brick laying process.

Dr Fred Stone, Sr. display at the Museum of Appalachia in Norris, Tennessee. Author: Brian Stansberry CC BY 3.0

Fred Stone respected nature and modified the design of this hospital to fit around an old maple tree growing on the lot, which is the reason the building’s northeast corner has its awkward look.

Medical bag used by Dr Fred Stone Sr. Author: Brian Stansberry CC BY 3.0

Over the years, Stone gradually expanded the hospital building with numerous small additions.  The building had grown from its original 1,036 square feet to almost 4,000 sq ft, bythe time of Stone’s death. The hospital’s subsequent owners removed the carefully preserved maple tree and added more modern elements to the roof such as fiberglass covers.

The observation tower. Author: Brian Stansberry CC BY 3.0

Luckily, during the 1990s, it was acquired by an architect named Charles Tichy who restored the building and returned its original beauty. This building was further immortalized due to the filming of several scenes from the 1999 film October Sky, forever capturing the beauty of this hospital inside the 35mm film.

Today the close by Sieknecht store still bears the “Olga Coal Company” facade from the movie.

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