If you’ve spent any time in Lebanon, you have probably heard of The Mitchell House. But did you know that it’s actually a National Historic Landmark? That’s right. This place is pretty important, not just to the people of Lebanon, Tennessee, but to the entire country. You will probably want to see it yourself, but without knowing the history behind it, you won’t enjoy it as much as you could. Therefore, before you go, you should learn as much about it as possible. Then, it will be even more interesting when you take the tour.
Who Is David Mitchell?
Dr. David Mitchell is known for being a philanthropist, a newspaper editor, and an educator. The Mitchell House was his and his wife, Elizabeth’s, home. The couple moved from Pennsylvania to Lebanon, Tennessee, even though he had a successful mining business back home. He went to Cumberland University and graduated from that school. Then, he became president of the university in 1902. He was the youngest university president in the entire nation, which earned him quite a bit of fame.
Not only did Dr. Mitchell refuse to take a salary as president, he actually donated his own money to the university. He even paid professors with his own funds. That’s one of the reasons he is so well-known in the Lebanon area. Dr. Mitchell was also the co-founder of the Castle Heights School.
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Construction started on The Mitchell House in 1906. It’s adjoined to the school property so Dr. Mitchell could have easy access to the school. It was meant to function as a luxurious home for his family, but it quickly became more than that. The Mitchells moved into the house in 1910, and the home quickly became a cultural center for Lebanon.
However, once Elizabeth Mitchell contracted typhoid fever and died at age 42, Dr. Mitchell sold the house to his children for only $1. Mitchell went to California to seclude himself, and the children’s grandparents took the kids to live in Florida. Then, after a period of vacancy, the property was purchased in 1936 and functioned as the living quarters for boarding students. Finally, in 1997, Cracker Barrel Old Country Store bought the home and returned it to its former glory. It is once again a cultural hub for Lebanon.
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