Cumberland Now Volume 1, Issue 8 - Page 6

Reginald and Virginia Rowell opened Rowell Apple House in 1968 after planting 100 red delicious and 100 golden delicious apple trees on their property on Hwy. 70 E. The two had been proprietors of the Rowell Hotel and they started the orchard as a side business as the new interstate began changing traffic patterns. nald was originally from Vermont, where his family owned a dairy farm. They moved north the following year. Five years later, they returned to Crossville and they opened Rowell Motel off Hwy. 70. “He was from the north, but loved it here,” Virginia said in a 2010 interview. The couple kept their hotel for many years, but as work began on the new Interstate 40 in the 1960s, they knew traffic patterns would be changing. So they looked to change their business to keep up with the times. “He wanted to start something else, and he always loved growing things. He wanted something that we wouldn’t have to be occupied with 24 hours out of the day everyday like we were with the motel,” Virginia said with chuckle. “Well, little did he know how much work that would be.” Reginald planted 100 red delicious and 100 golden delicious apple trees in 1966 and ’67. Rowell’s Apple House opened in 1968. At first, most of their crop went to White Stores in Crossville, with a few offered to the public from the hotel lobby. When the Apple House was built in 1983, the apple business went retail to the public. 6 | Cumberland Now • September 2020 It’s a no-frills enterprise, Reggie says. “We’re a big roadside stand for apples and just apples,” he said. “A lot of our regular customs come from Knoxville, Roane County, Morgan County — even Nashville. They make a day of it.” The Next Generations Mr. and Mrs. Rowell passed away in 2010 — he in March and she in May. They put the business in the hands of their son, Reggie. Reggie was in the military when his parents planted those first trees. He followed that with 30 years of work at Y-12 in Oak Ridge. But on the weekends, he returned home and he and his wife, Thela, and daughters Tracie and Trudi spent their weekends and free time helping with the orchard over the years. Thela passed away in 2015. Trudi married John Roberts and they live in Knoxville with their children, Brooke Ann Roberts and Reginald “Lane” Roberts. Tracie married Tom Howard, and they live in Crossville. Son Jacob has been helping Grandpa and the family with apple picking, though he says he prefers the washing Son-in-law John Roberts picks apples to sell in the Apple House. He’s been able to put a degree in agriculture to work at the orchard.