The City of Lebanon donated $5,000 this week to preserving Pickett Chapel and its rich history.
The Wilson County Black History Committee acquired the historic landmark in 2007 and has since worked diligently to raise funds to restore it to its former glory. Wilson County Black History Committee President Mary Harris said they recently applied for a $24,000 grant from the state's Historic Commission. The local goal is to raise $12,000 to move into Phase 2 of the restoration.
Harris said much has already been done to stabilize the structure - including securing a main wall and adding a French drain.
Phase 2 will be restoring windows and the front doors. Harris said the cost of each window is $7,000 - and they are currently accepting window sponsorships from businesses and other donors.
Once that is completed they will move forward with renovating the floor, ceiling and interior.
It is a project that Lebanon Mayor Philip Craighead believes in.
"Lebanon has needs all over the city. This is our history. This is the first brick building in Wilson County - once you lose it, it's gone forever," he said. "With Mary (Harris) and the Black History Committee working toward saving and renovating this, I think it will turn into a museum that will be enjoyed by the city and those who come to visit."
Harris recounted Pickett Chapel's history and preached that it is a project the whole community - not just African American community members - should get behind.
"It was originally a white congregation," she said. "This building has housed everyone."
The building was constructed in the 1820s. In 1866, 33 former slaves purchased the church building - making it Wilson County's first African American church.
The Pickett congregation left in 1973 when a new church building was constructed. The congregation marched from Pickett Chapel to what is now Pickett Rucker First United Methodist on Glover Street.