Lynchburg: Miss Mary Bobo’s Boarding House

Miss Mary Bobo's Boarding House in Lynchburg

Miss Mary Bobo’s Boarding House in Lynchburg

If you were to run into me and ask how I am doing the response would be “awesome but tired.” Why? Over the last week, I got to explore three new towns – Dickson, Kingston Springs, and Lynchburg – in addition to attending heritage development meetings in some other communities.

On Wednesday, I had a delightful day in Lynchburg which is 75 miles south of Nashville. I intended to photograph and research Miss Mary Bobo’s Boarding House, a National Register-listed property, and then leave. But the town and the lure of knowing more about Jack Daniel, the man, the myth, the legend sucked me in. And thank goodness for that because the story of Miss Bobo’s is integrally linked with that of Jack Daniel. It turns out that Jack Daniel not only took many meals at Miss Bobo’s table but also that the distillery bought the property from Miss Bobo’s heirs shortly after her death in the 1983 and have run it as a restaurant ever since under the management of Lynne Tolley, Jack Daniel’s great niece (source: The Heritage of Moore County, 1871-2004) .

In 2006, a large scale renovation added a professional grade kitchen as well as increased seating capacity by opening up three additional dining rooms. Each of the dining rooms — there are eight or nine of them — is presided over by a professional hostess. Our hostess shared stories about the founding of the town, distillery, Miss Bobo, and the building. It was not surprising to learn that she was a former teacher – her love of history was evident. After lunch, she gave me a private tour and introduced me to the head chef who is also related to Jack Daniel.

Can you imagine how incomplete my understanding of the property would have been without knowing its historic and cultural landscapes? Again, I feel thankful for the training afforded by MTSU’s Center for Historic Preservation for stressing the importance of a balanced approach of conducting fieldwork, doing library research, and consulting community experts.

Sign in front of Miss Mary Bobo's

Sign in front of Miss Mary Bobo’s

One of the multiple dining rooms at Miss Mary Bobo's

One of the multiple dining rooms at Miss Mary Bobo’s. Lunch, served twice daily, is  family style.

One of the new dining rooms located in the basement.

One of the new dining rooms located in the basement.

The historic staff quarters were recently stabilized but are not open to the public.

The historic staff quarters were recently stabilized but are not open to the public.

Moore County courthouse in Lynchburg

Moore County courthouse in Lynchburg

Town square

Town square

Display for the Jack Trail, one of the Discover Tennessee Trails & Byways

Display for the Jack Trail, one of the Discover Tennessee Trails & Byways

"Jack on the Rocks" by Alan LeQuire, one of the leading sculptors in the state

“Jack on the Rocks” by Alan LeQuire, one of the leading sculptors in the state

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