During the Manhattan Project, the government built small areas behind the fence in what is now known as Oak Ridge that served the workers to supply local shopping, food, entertainment and more. Jackson Square was the original Townsite of Oak Ridge and is part of the Oak Ridge Historic District designated by the National Register of Historic Places. It is also part of the Manhattan Project National Historic Park that was designated in 2015.
Neighborhoods centered on the Townsite, which was designed to offer comprehensive shopping, recreation, and business facilities. The high school, hospital and multifamily housing units were also located near the Townsite. After completion, the area was named Town Center, but that name did not catch on, and residents continued to call it Townsite. Later, it took on the name of Jackson Square.
The Army tried to provide adequate commercial outlets for consumer goods and services behind the fence. Miller’s Department Store in 1944 grossed over $1.2 million. Many shoppers were longing for the items that could be purchased back home in their own department stores. Other shops in the area included Hall’s Shoes, the Hamilton Bank of Knoxville, Sutton’s Barbershop, The Arcade, McCrory’s 5 and 10 Cent Store, Post Office, Fire Station, and more.
Midtown Shopping provided a limited number of goods for sale to the residents of the trailer camps and hutments. A gas station, grocery store, barber shop, and post office were among the shops. Also on site were the Middletown Recreation Hall with a bowling alley and a movie theater.
Today, Jackson Square features quaint shops and local restaurants, unique events and activities, and a nostalgic look back at wartime Oak Ridge. During the war, Jackson Square was open 24 hours, seven days a week and was a common spot to gather when workers had downtime. Jackson Square is home to the Oak Ridge Playhouse, established during WWII, and the Oak Ridge Farmers Market.