Harvest wine, cheese event to benefit historic chapel

Staff Reports • Updated Aug 27, 2013 at 4:36 PM

The Harvest Wine and Cheese event Sept. 28 is expected to benefit and celebrate the ongoing restoration efforts for the historic Pickett Chapel in Lebanon.

“We are excited about the progress of the restoration, and grateful for the continued support,” said Mary Harris, president of the Wilson County Black History Committee, which is overseeing efforts to restore the church. “It’s a big job, but there are many enthusiastic friends and well-wishers. It will be something we can be proud of.”

Pickett Chapel at 209 East Market St. has stood empty for years. But the building that housed Pickett Chapel has a long history. It’s the oldest brick building in Lebanon, and Pickett Chapel Methodist Church, established in 1866, was the first church for black people in the city.

Pickett Chapel was built in 1827 and throughout the years became a major factor in the formation of the community. The church remained active until 1973, when members moved to a new building, which was named Pickett Rucker United Methodist Church. For several years, until 2001, the historic building was home to the Pickett Players, a local theater company. 

The Wilson County Black History Committee bought the building in 2007 and began restoration efforts. 

Recently, the Wilson County Black History Committee received a grant for $22,200 from the Tennessee Historical Commission for the rehabilitation of the National Register-listed building.

“We are so grateful for the grant award,” Harris said. “We are moving forward.” 

Jesse McLevain, a member of the advisory board for the restoration, said the grant will allow significant progress.

“We’ll be able to work on the windows and doors, and do some work on the interior,” McLevain said.

When renovation is complete, Historic Pickett Chapel will become the site of the Roy Bailey African American History Center, and a resource for the community.

The Harvest Wine and Cheese fundraiser will be Sept. 28 at 7 p.m. at Cumberland University’s Baird Chapel. Guests will enjoy heavy hors d’oeuvres, desserts, dancing, music by the Blues Brokers and Earl Vantrease and Company. A silent auction will be part of the fundraiser.

Tickets are $50, or $375 for a table of eight. For more information, contact JoAnn Brown at jbrown7006@charter.net or 615-335-4739. Tickets are available at the Lebanon-Wilson County Chamber of Commerce and at the Roy Bailey History Center and Museum at 115 East Main St.

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