'Fuddtown', Johnson house up for auction   

By Thomas Wilson
star staff

  A well-known strip of property located just east of the West Elk Avenue/West G Street intersection and once home to a popular antique store and an American Indian museum could undergo a major facelift as the property owners' heirs plan to auction the property next month.
  Fuddtown, named for land owner Clyde "Fudd" Campbell, is scheduled to be sold at public auction on Aug. 21. Travis Royston of Ron Ramsey & Associates auction company conducting the sale confirmed Friday that the 8-acre property was up for sale.
  The Clyde and Arlene Campbell's four children - Jackie, Marcia, Cindy and Phillip - inherited and co-own the property. Phillip Campbell said Saturday that the family decided to sell the property where his father's popular antiques store brought collectors from around the region.
  Phillip Campbell said that for him the decision came with some sadness given his memories of their values and desire to preserve history.
  "My mom and dad were good Christian people, they helped people and were very good people," he said. "The money is not the issue - they wanted to preserve history and that is why everything is there."
  Clyde and Arlene Campbell purchased the property in the 1960s. The Campbells operated an antiques store and museum displaying American Indian artifacts for several years.
  Phillip Campbell said his father also owned a restaurant nearby that was shut down when the state exercised its eminent domain expanding West Elk Avenue into a five-lane highway. Fudd Campbell sold antiques to customers around the country and donated several historic items to state historic agencies for display, Phillip Campbell said.
  Drawing the most interest from collectors and private investors is a two-story house located on property where former President Andrew Johnson died in 1875. The house - which identifies its historical image with a sign above the front door - was once owned by Johnson's daughter and is scheduled to be sold at the auction.
  The Campbell heirs offered to donate the house to the Carter County government for display as an historic attraction two years ago but were never taken up on their offer, Phillip Campbell said.
  "We have tried to get the house restored and it took quite a bit of time," he said. "In two years of trying, we didn't think they were interested."
  The Andrew Johnson National Historic Site in Greeneville features the homestead, tailor shop and grave site of the 17th president of the United States. Royston said representatives of the historic site had expressed interest in adding the house to the exhibit.
  The home was previously located in the Lynn Valley area near the present day Watauga Industrial Park before being moved to Fuddtown. Phillip Campbell stated the fate of the Johnson house was now a "family matter" and declined further comment on the home's future.
  Royston said numerous people stopped by Fuddtown last week while he was working at the site and asked about the property. He also said interest regarding the Johnson house had exploded since the word got out the property was being sold.
  "I've had numerous calls from people trying to buy the house," said Royston, himself a lifelong Elizabethton resident. "I'd like for it to stay here."
  The property includes a church building approximately 200 years old, and other buildings including one of the first banks in Carter County. Phillip Campbell said his father built a fort that displayed Indian artifacts from a burial ground located near the property. Burglars robbed the fort and destroyed several Indian graves in the process several years ago, he said.
  Fuddtown's property line actually extends several feet into the Watauga River, which lies directly behind the property. Royston said the property's value was high given its location for commercial development.
  With interest running high about the Johnson house, Phillip Campbell said he hoped the historical significance of the antiques and memorabilia the family sought to maintain would not be forgotten.
  "My mom and dad said if people don't put this stuff up and keep it, the next generations will never see it," he said, "and that is why that collection is there."