Today is Friday, August 18, 2017

Creative Placemaking

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Northeast Corner of Lebanon Public Square, late 1940s/50s. Photo by Louis Perner

Modern lives are virtual - our news, shopping and interactions are digested alone, usually on a smartphone. While technology certainly has its advantages and makes many tasks more convenient, people yearn for a connection, not only to a physical spot but a connection to the pulse, to the heart of a community. Recapturing or recreating a sense of community is what creative placemaking is all about.

Lebanon's Square is that center of the community, a place to not only satisfy consumer needs but to develop a connection with our past - just standing on the sidewalk, looking at the buildings gives one a sense of belonging to something larger than just a retail transaction. One can feel the activities and families that have gone on before you and will go on for years to come. This feeling is something we can all collectively share. We are instantly a part of the Square's history and at the same time are making our own history.

Hearing the Town Spring gurgling in the northwest corner, seeing the old McAdoo's sign revealed when an awning is removed and looking at a list of Square businesses from the December 1957 telephone directory reminds one that the more things change, the more they stay the same. And for our Square, that is comforting indeed.

The 1957 directory includes the following businesses on the Public Square and immediate area:

  • Insurance Agents: A Adams Insurance Agency

  • Attorneys: William Baird, Neal Agee Sr., Willard Hagan

  • Automobile Dealers: Wilson County Motors, Cedar Motors, Donnell Motors

  • Banks: Lebanon Bank, Commerce Union Bank

  • Barber and Beauty Shops: Davenport Ideal Barber Shop, Modern Barber Shop, Peoples Barber Shop, Gladys Beauty Salon, Louise Beauty Salon, Alyne's Beauty Shoppe, Beauty Fount and the Lebanon Beauty Shoppe

  • Eateries: West Side Coffee Shop, Bennett's Café, City Café, Dixie Café, Fisher's Café, Pat's Café, The Tasty Shop

  • Drug Stores: Bradshaw's, Shannon's, Lebanon Drug Co.

  • Retail Shops: McGee and Jennings, D&D, Draper and Darwin Stores, Evon's, McAdoo's, Olds Cash Store, Chandler's, Cowan's Dry Goods

  • Five and Ten Cents Stores: Kuhn's, Rose's Five Ten and Twenty-Five Cent Store, Welty's 5 Cents to $1 Store

  • Furniture Stores: Bellar Furniture Co., Cox Furniture Co., Exchange Furniture Co., Reed Furniture Co.

  • Jewelers: Lin's Jewelry Store, McGee and Jennings

  • Photographers: Seat Studio, Portraits by David

Each of these past businesses and numerous others contribute to our collective memory and inform our individual nostalgia for this place, our Public Square. Just as current businesses and institutions are creating that memory of place now. Creative placemaking is all about preserving the essence of our community, the essence of Lebanon, embracing our past while looking forward to new opportunities in the future.

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column, Historic Lebanon, history, Kim Parks, Lebanon Public Square
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