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Historic Lebanon is 'Charting a New Future for Lebanon's Past'

Mary Hinds maryhinds@lebanondemocrat.com • Updated Jul 26, 2013 at 9:59 PM

It's a match that just makes sense. Historic Lebanon Tomorrow is now Historic Lebanon, and the newly christened group is now in partnership with Cumberland University.

Cumberland President Dr. Harvill Eaton recently made the announcement during a kick-off luncheon event.  

“Charting a New Future for Lebanon’s Past” was the title of the event held by Historic Lebanon and Cumberland University in the Arcade building on Lebanon’s Public Square.

Eaton said the university’s involvement sets an example of community partnership vital to the success of any economic revitalization effort in Lebanon’s Public Square and other historic areas.  

“Cumberland University is Lebanon’s oldest continuously operated business,” Eaton said.

The luncheon was a chance for Historic Lebanon to not only announce the partnership, but to also share its goal of becoming a Main Street community.  

As a result of the partnership with Cumberland University, Historic Lebanon hired Kim Parks as executive director.  This will allow Historic Lebanon to pursue acceptance into Tennessee’s Main Street program.

"Main Street is a state program, but it's part of the National Trust," Parks said. "It offers mentoring from people in places that have taken part before, such as Franklin."

Parks stays above the fray in the controversy surrounding the plan to complete safety upgrades on the Lebanon Town Square, but she said safety is definitely an issue on the square.

"If we can make it safer and prettier and leave Gen. Hatton untouched, it will be good," she said.

Tennessee Main Street Program Director Kimberly Nyberg congratulated the crowd of community leaders during her keynote talk. The Main Street Program puts Lebanon in line for low-interest loans to restore and maintain the city's past.

“Hats off to Lebanon for putting together such a great team to move Historic Lebanon forward in applying to become a certified Tennessee Main Street community,” she said. "It will be great to see a solid ‘Main Street’ revitalization effort form in Lebanon based on the tried and true, 30-year-old National Main Street Program, which encourages communities to pull together, address issues large and small and celebrate the incremental changes that can happen in downtown — a downtown everyone can be proud of.”

Parks said the ultimate goal of Historic Lebanon is to create a "Historic Zone" in and around the square to renovate, restore and protect some of Lebanon's most historic properties.

She said declaring a historic zone allows the city to stop demolition, to stop someone from putting up an inappropriate building in the midst of historic structures and controls demolition by neglect.

"The main reason for a historic zone is to protect property values in a historic area," Parks said.

Historic zones and building a clock tower in the parking lot that served the old courthouse are part of her vision for Lebanon.

"We're selling the vision," she said.

Parks is always looking for community support, and CedarStone Bank has already pledged $1,500 a year for the next three years to get the ball rolling.

For more information on Historic Lebanon and its plans for economic revitalization and preservation contact historiclebanon@cumberland.edu or visit historiclebanontomorrow.org.

"I want us to be the educational component of our historic preservation," Parks said. "We want to provide education about our history and how we can make it work for us."

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