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10 Reasons to Spend a Day in Historic Granville

T.B. Sutton Store in Historic Granville. Photo credit: Nathan Lambrecht

What started with a Mayberry-themed play in Granville a decade ago is now a year-round, community-wide tribute to the iconic Andy Griffith Show of the 1960s – and with good reason. The riverfront town in Middle Tennessee shares many similarities with Mount Airy, North Carolina, where the likable actor grew up.

“People know everybody here, and it’s just a step back in time, kind of like when you watch The Andy Griffith Show,” says Randall Clemons, president of Historic Granville-Granville Museum, Inc.

Punctuated by front porches and operated by more than 200 volunteers, Granville “preserves a small town of yesteryear,” Clemons says. “We want people to leave with a memory.”

1. T. B. Sutton General Store

The town’s major drawing card, this two-story 1865 landmark (it’s on the National Historic Register) offers much more than four shops and a chance to chow down on pinto beans, turnip greens and hoe cakes at Granville’s main eatery. On Saturday nights, it also hosts the Sutton Ole Time Music Hour, a bluegrass dinner show similar to the Grand Ole Opry, live commercials and all.

2. Granville Museum

Housed in a historic church building, the first museum to open in Granville highlights the town’s heritage through photo collections, including the insightful work of Vincent DeNardo, a World War II soldier who came here in the early 1940s during field maneuvers and returned annually for the next 30 years to capture the town’s evolution. Rooms dedicated to local schools, the military and genealogy acquaint visitors with the early days of the town and the families and businesses that made it what it is today.

T.B. Sutton Store in Historic Granville. Photo credit: Nathan Lambrecht

3. Wildwood Resort & Marina

Thanks to a recent $2.5 million expansion and new lodge, a visit to Wildwood Resort & Marina on the Cumberland River and Cordell Hull Lake has become even more enjoyable. Boating enthusiasts will appreciate the beautiful slips made of Brazilian hardwood, along with kayak, pontoon, canoe and paddleboard rentals, while those who’d rather kick back can relax in an Adirondack chair on one of the covered front porches. Granville is also home to three bed-and-breakfasts.

4. Mayberry – I Love Lucy Museum

Combining extensive collections from two of America’s best-loved TV shows, the Mayberry – I Love Lucy Museum opened in the summer of 2020. Check out Lucy’s house, right down to the vintage dishes in her kitchen, then stroll through Floyd’s barbershop and the rest of Andy’s neighborhood. “Meet” Aunt Bee, Opie and other characters from both shows, and relive the antics that still make fans of all ages smile.

Shopping in Granville’s Pioneer Village; Photo credit: Nathan Lambrecht

5. Sutton Homeplace & Pioneer Village

The second-oldest house in Granville, the 19th-century residence of the general store’s original owner has been restored with authentic furnishings. But with themed exhibits that change every quarter, it’s anything but the typical historic home. This spring, the focus will shift to the contributions of women across the nation. Behind the homeplace, Pioneer Village offers a lot to take in, from the barn and wellhouse that belonged to Grand Ole Opry performer Jesse Donald “Uncle Jimmy” Thompson to shops dedicated to baskets, blacksmithing and brooms, plus a new cottage garden.

Photo credit: Nathan Lambrecht

6. Granville Tour

For just five bucks, take a guided or self-guided tour of the town, starting at the Sutton homeplace and Pioneer Village. Stroll through six museums showcasing antique cars, ice cream and more. Get there early and plan to spend about three hours; tours are available all year, Wednesday through Saturday. Fortunately for visitors, the sights in this two-street town are within easy walking distance of each other, Cordell Hull Lake and the Cumberland River.

7. Farm to Table Museum

New as of June 2020, the Farm to Table Museum traces what’s grown on the farm to your plate, along with how animals were once part of the area’s transportation system. Exhibits highlight the dairy process with, among other things, a refurbished 1942 milk truck and the history of dairy farms in Middle Tennessee. Others are dedicated to tobacco, corn and chickens. A special mule exhibit features one of Granville’s original horse-drawn hearses.

Farm to Table Museum; Photo credit: Nathan Lambrecht

8. New Decanter Collection at Whistle Stop Saloon

Making its debut on May 1 at the Whistle Stop Saloon is a large collection of 2,600 decanters filled with Jim Beam whiskey, some shaped like automobiles, others like popular actors, presidents and even Santa Claus. Once a major riverboat landing, Granville built the 1800s saloon as a stopover for travelers. This replica also includes a menagerie of whiskey jugs from across the state.

9. Festivals Galore

Seven annual festivals throughout the year celebrate everything from Mayberry to moonshine. At the Genealogy Festival on April 10, families can conduct research and, this year, learn about notable women, from local, state and national leaders to the female cast of The Andy Griffith Show. The same day, TV characters make an appearance at the Mayberry – I Love Lucy Day and antique car lovers gather for a Mayberry cruise-in. On May 1, the Cornbread & Moonshine Festival entertains with a cornbread-making contest and samples, plus tastings hosted by area distillers. Spring events wrap up with the 22nd annual Granville Heritage Day, featuring bluegrass, crafts booths and a parade on May 29.

10. Outdoor Dinner Theater

On April 30 and May 1, the town’s popular outdoor dinner theater in Pioneer Village features the Darlings, the mountain musicians of The Andy Griffith Show. Other performances are offered throughout the year.

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