By SAM HATCHER Last Saturday night the wife and I and a friend from New Jersey made about a one hour drive to Granville, Tennessee and in doing so stepped back in time for several decades. We were the guests of Randall and Peggy Clemons (Randall is CEO and chairman of Wilson Bank and Trust) for an evening of bluegrass music and a family styled meal that could best be described as second to none. (Good home cooked food served in an all you can eat tradition in a room that seats perhaps 50 or so.) Granville, once a prominent and thriving riverboat community on the Cumberland, is now a serene retreat.
It’s a place to get away from cell phones, traffic lights, blowing horns, the Internet and many other distractions of today’s complicated world.
Located in the corner of Jackson County and within a stone’s throw of the neighboring Smith County line, Granville today is dotted with bed and breakfast inns, a general store (Sutton’s General Store which was reconstructed by Mt. Juliet businessman Harold Sutton), and a marina and restaurant which is owned and operated by Herb and Elmie Ruck of Lebanon.
Saturday nights at Sutton’s Store is when Granville comes alive.
Folding chairs are lined up down the center of floor. A stage is set in one corner, and a bluegrass band ignites a crowd of hundred or so with some old time country music. Their instruments are a pleasing sound to a hand-clapping, toe-tapping audience in Sutton’s Store as well as to those who will hear their music on a weekly radio show that is broadcast on seven area stations.
The event itself is like stepping back in time. It’s like seeing the Grand Ole Opry produced as it was 70 or 80 years ago.
But what makes it all so believable or unbelievable as the case may be is the store itself. Stocked with relics of the past, shelves in Sutton’s Store display old boxes, knives, hats, a number of antique items and signs advertising an assortment of candies, soft drinks and tobacco products.
There are two shows on Saturday night and two separate seatings for dinner. Dinner is served next door (same building) in what was once the store’s feed room. Reservations are recommended as frequently there are sellout crowds on hand for dinner. Seating for the radio show is on a first come, first serve basis and is open to the public.
Tiny Granville is not a place where you will find a pizzeria, a five-story department store or an upscale grocery.
But what you will find are lazy front porches, a river flowing in a Mark Twain-like storybook fashion, some great fishing opportunities, friendly people and a town museum that gives you a great perspective on how life may have been in Granville in the late 1800s.