Situated in downtown Nashville, just off interstate 65, commuters pass by a group of buildings that offer only small clues to their past prominence. Barry Walker, the present owner of the buildings, quietly inches his way, restoring the buildings to their prior glory.
The main building was constructed in 1881 as "The Phoenix Cotton Mill" also known as the Nashville Cotton Mill. By 1910 the building was vacant.
Quietly brewing in Jackson Tennessee, was a manufacturing company started in 1874 under the name of; Sherman Manufacturing Company, later sold and renamed "Southern Engine and Boiler Works" They incorporated in 1884, producing gasoline engines and boilers.
By 1904, they had become the largest manufacturer of its kind, in the nation. Building on the success of their engines, and prosperity of their company, in 1906 Southern started production of their first automobile, designed by gifted engineer William H. Collier.
By 1910 some 600 automobiles were produced under the brand name of Southerns.
Southern Engine and Boiler Works success with automobiles caught the attention of wealthy Nashville Businessman; Augustus H. Robinson, who assembled a group of investors; that purchased the automobile division, and relocated it to the vacant Phoenix Cotton Mill building.
It was learned that another manufacturer was producing automobiles named Southern, so William Collier renamed his cars "Marathon" in honor of the 1904 Olympics.
When relocation was complete, Marathon expanded its line from the original A9 Touring Car, and B9 Rumble seat Roadster. By 1911 five models were offered, and by 1913 they had increased to 12 different models. The car was a complete success with the public, and production could hardly keep up with demand. Marathon had Dealers in every major city in America; by 1912 they had achieved production capacities of 200 cars monthly, with plans of 10,000 yearly.
read more of this article