“The story of the Lebanon Woolen Mills is the story of a woolen thread. A thread that has entwined itself into the hearts and lives of thousands of persons; one that has bound the people of Lebanon together through prosperity and depression, through gladness and sorrow.”
– Excerpt from the 50th Anniversary Yearbook 1958 – Lebanon Woolen Mills
The Mill at Lebanon is soon to be one of Middle Tennessee’s favorite destinations for shopping, dining, one-of-a-kind events and bigcity loft living in a country setting. Formerly known as the Lebanon Woolen Mills, the Mill at Lebanon is now listed on the National Register of Historic Places and is keeping to its historic flavor as it moves forward with impressive renovations of this historic landmark.
Under the direction of Curt Gibbs this 200,000 square foot mixed-use facility is beginning to house retail, restaurants, offices, galleries, museums and a theatre right on 300 North Maple Street in Lebanon, Tennessee. In 1908, Dr. Edgerton founded the Lebanon Woolen Mills. Legend has it that Dr. Edgerton experienced a high degree of frustration because he was compensated for his medical services with chickens, garden goods, and various other items of barter. While getting to know his patients, Dr. Edgerton observed that there were many sheep farmers in the area and came to believe that a woolen mill would provide employment for the local community. In the early 1900’s he started the Lebanon Woolen Mills which remained in operation under a number of corporate entities until 1998 when it was closed for good.
Many locals in Wilson County share stories of how their parents and grandparents worked inside the woolen mills for decades. And many in town still talk about the fact that each and every morning the Lebanon Woolen Mills would sound “the whistle” heard throughout town signaling that the Woolen Mills was open for business. It was a sad day indeed when those doors closed as a little part of Wilson County history also came to an end.
Between 2000 and 2004 a transitional developer began architectural and structural plans for a new future for The Mill. Today under new ownership and management, the vision is continuing the transition from a historical manufacturing complex to a beautiful retail, entertainment, office and residential redevelopment on the 15 acre campus, just one block from the square in downtown Lebanon, Tennessee, adjacent to the Music City Star Rail Station.
Curt Gibbs has been committed to retaining the historic features of the Lebanon Woolen Mills as his team of architects and engineers work on converting the old buildings and factory into new useable space. Curt notes that “our goal is to provide a historic reminder of the livelihood
of past generations, while adding to the character of the community with beautifully re-designed buildings, utilizing the historic architecture and infrastructure which is an environmentally and socially responsible approach to redevelopment and LEED certification, one of the goals of the project.”
One look inside the Mill at Lebanon and one can see things are quickly moving towards this new vision.
The Mill at Lebanon now houses a theater production company – Millworks Theatre – where professional plays and musicals are performed throughout the year. The theatre has performances Tuesdays though Sunday. All sorts of performances can be seen including comedies, dramas, musicals and concerts. Catered lunches and dinners accompany many of the performances.
A recently added car museum, Hot Rod Alley, has also found a new home within the expansive building. Car enthusiasts from far and wide now travel to Wilson County to visit the car museum.
While at the Mill guests can enjoy ice cream at DeSoto‘s Ice Cream Parlor. Lunch and dinner is served at the Bull & Whistle and coffee of all types can be found at Vibes Coffee House. A thriving, local church Crossroads Community Church has also found a home on this 15 acre campus.
Businesses also include Intrigue Athletics Inc., Sunnyside Entertainment and Planit Nashville. A recent business, The Heart’s Calling, offers art and calligraphy classes for adults and children. Plans are in the works to include a multi-merchant artisan gallery and gift shop in mid-October.
Curt notes that “we are strengthening our efforts to populate our space through ‘targeting’ tenants which is designed to create a symbiotic
relationship between businesses. This allows one business to bring in customers that might also be interested in what another business in our facility is also offering. It is an innovative concept that is very community driven.”
The Mill at Lebanon is also known for its expansive event spaces that have held weddings, corporate meetings, receptions, trade shows, speaking engagements and special dinners and dances. Various rooms at the Mill, both inside and out, can hold events for as many as 1500 guests to 30 guests. No event is too big or too small. In fact, the event space at the Mill at Lebanon is one of the largest privately owned event spaces in Middle Tennessee and stays very active with its various event space options including the Loft, the Atrium, the Markets, Edgerton Hall, and the Patio.
Many local residents have attended weddings and receptions at the Mill at Lebanon and all remark on the detail to attention that the staff of the Mill provides for these events. The Mill takes their event space to the next level by not only providing the space for the event but also offering event planners who can help their clients make the best of their special event. Wedding specialists work closely with the brides, grooms and their families throughout the process and can attend to every detail including making selections for florists, caterers, photographers and entertainment.
Another exciting new concept in the planning stage is the Inn at the Mill. This boutique hotel will be a unique mid-south destination where tourists will fi nd an alternative place to stay while visiting middle Tennessee.
Given all that the Mill at Lebanon has to offer, Wilson Living Magazine knew it would be the perfect place to host the First Annual Wilson Living Holiday Expo on November 6th and 7th.
Held in both the Edgerton Room and the Atrium, the Expo will be the perfect place for Wilson county residents to kick off their holiday shopping. The event is expected to draw over 100 vendors who will be on hand selling unique items sure to please everyone on Christmas morning. Santa will be on hand to visit and to take photographs with the children. Various food vendors will also be on site so be sure to come hungry. Entertainment will be provided by the actors and musicians of Millworks Theatre who will be performing holiday entertainment free to all those who attend on both days.
Becky Andrews, Editor of Wilson Living Magazine, notes that “we came up with this idea as a way of giving back to both our readers and our advertisers. We started this magazine in October of 2008, right in the middle of a recession, but amazingly we found that people needed something like this magazine to remind them that Wilson County has a lot of good to offer. We have found that our Wilson county neighbors, our local merchants and their products are all top notch. This county has been hit by the recession just like every other county in the state but our residents have a way of persevering. We were ready to be optimistic about our future. And we thought this Holiday Expo would be a fun event where local residents could come out, shop and have some fun and fellowship while also supporting their local merchants. Summit Hospital, Wilson Bank & Trust, The Wilson Post, and The Mill at Lebanon are cosponsors of the event, and we are all so excited about starting a Holiday Shopping Event right here in Wilson County.”
The event is free to the public and part of the proceeds of the event will be used to fund a Wilson Living Magazine scholarship in honor of “Jane Horan” Becky’s mother, who was a much beloved teacher in the Wilson County School
“We encourage local vendors to call us to be part of this event. We know there are lots of mom and pop companies run out of people’s homes in the area who don’t have storefronts but still produce wonderful products. This is an opportunity for them to share their products for the holidays. We are also excited that many of our local stores in Lebanon, Mt. Juliet and Watertown are going to be on hand showcasing and selling their products. And for those who need to relax after a day of shopping, eating and being entertained, local physicians and aestheticians will be on hand providing some of the latest beauty products and treatments.”
“It really is going to be a wonderful two day event. And we hope everyone will come out and join us in celebrating our one year anniversary of Wilson Living Magazine and the holiday season!”
For more information about any of the businesses now open for business, spaces that are currently available for leasing or event spaces available for your next wedding or special event at The Mill At Lebanon please visit www.theMillatLebanon.com or call Diane Parness at 443-6901.
Wilson Living Holiday Expo will be held at The Mill of Lebanon 300 N. Maple Street, Lebanon, Tn. The event will be held Friday, November 6th from 12 p.m. to 9 p.m. and on Saturday November 7th from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.
For more information you can go to www.wilsonlivingexpo.com or call Becky at 969-6751.