postcard courtesy Tudy English

McRae’s Cafe Under the Old Oak Tree


  White County Heritage

ip Holt of McRae tells of the famous café in McRae.  In most cafes, people may see a few plants hanging or sitting around, but having a tree in the center of the café was quite unusual.  The name of the café was the Oak Tree Inn.

The café was built around one of McRae’s biggest oaks, 13 feet and 7 inches in circumference.  The café was run by Speedy Fuller, but the building was owned by L.P. “Doc” Ernest, and he had no idea the wind would cause the tree to shift, so every time it rained the roof would need to be packed around the tree.  The tree café was tremendously popular and received a great deal of business due to the oak tree.   Tourists liked to take pictures of the café.

The Oak Tree Inn was located in the middle section of McRae, the most lively part of town.  Surrounding the café were a pool hall, a beer joint and a liquor store.  A great deal of commotion and fighting went on outside of the café.  A fire destroyed the building in the late 1940s and killed the tree, and it finally had to be cut down.