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.