What’s old is new. Tennessee has a multitude of historical buildings and places – many of which have been reimagined for the 21st century. Explore some of the historic places across the state that have been reinvented.
Where better to walk freely than where those before could not, in one of Tennessee’s largest former maximum-security prisons? Historic Brushy Mountain State Penitentiary in Petros was locking up criminals like Martin Luther King Jr.’s assassin James Earl Ray as far back as 1896, but it was decommissioned in 2009. The shuttering of the famed facility 40 miles outside of Knoxville presented the opportunity to create a tourist destination offering self-guided and guided tours and overnight “investigations.” Visitors can enjoy the Warden’s Table Restaurant, moonshine distillery, museum and live concerts.
Nonprofit Crosstown Arts breathed new life into Memphis’ Sears, Roebuck & Co. distribution center that sat empty for nearly 20 years when they reopened it as a mixed-use facility comprising apartments, office spaces, retail, restaurants and more. Spanning 1.5 million square feet, Crosstown Concourse debuted in 2017, providing a place for entrepreneurs to meet, create and thrive.
Chattanooga Choo Choo Hotel
As far as unique lodging goes, the Chattanooga Choo Choo Hotel is one of the finest. Originally the city’s train depot back in the heyday of rail travel, Terminal Station was the beating heart of Chattanooga. Today, it’s an entertainment destination filled with all kinds of fun, including restaurants, shopping, live music, a comedy club and the Songbirds Guitar Museum.
A stroll around the square in Granville harkens back to the days of sock hops and jukeboxes – with an old-fashioned general store, an antique car museum, a weekly live bluegrass show and plenty of places to pick up vintage goods. Just an hour east of Nashville, this quaint former riverboat town also features an interactive museum that re-creates its pioneer roots.
Entrepreneur Barry Walker set out to establish a place for creatives by reviving an 1800s auto manufacturing plant that shut down in 1914 and was closed for nearly a century. Now, businesses such as Mike Wolfe’s Antique Archaeology, Nelson’s Green Brier Distillery and rock venue Marathon Music Works anchor Nashville’s Marathon Village, and entrepreneurs like Sarah Souther with her confectionary lab, the Bang Candy Co., and jeweler-to-the-stars Vincent Peach have found homes in the charming complex that is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
The Factory at Franklin
This 30,000-square-foot manufacturing warehouse debuted in 1929 and, for years, served as the headquarters for a stove company and, later, a bedding manufacturer. In 1996, it was transformed into a mixed-use space primed for unique retail concepts. Celebrating 90 years, The Factory at Franklin now houses a collective of live music venues, restaurants and stores. Check out The Franklin Farmers Market on Saturdays, too.
Hatch Show Print
When Hatch Show Print moved to the lobby of the Country Music Hall of Fame® and Museum connected to the Omni Nashville Hotel, it gained more space for retail. It now offers a stage (via a very large viewing area) from which the letterpress printing company can perform to those wanting an up-close look at how the company has been printing up playbills, posters and more for 140 years – and still produces about 500 to 600 posters annually!