This week’s Murfreesboro Post Top 10 (as usual numbering 11) helps address that dilemma with a number of options, hopefully addressing a wide range of interests from the historical to the agricultural, from those attractive to the young and old. Next week a second Top 10 will list places within an hour or so drive.
Before taking a tour of the many attractions available here, pick up valuable literature at the Chamber of Commerce offices on Memorial (most of the following material is from the Chamber Web site) and the Heritage Center on West College.
1-3. County Courthouse, Public Square area
Just driving by it’s easy to miss the many places of interest on and near our Public Square.
On foot, however, and armed with a little knowledge, much of interest awaits around the historic Courthouse, one of the oldest and noblest in the state. The Heritage Center has literature for a walking tour of the Courthouse and surrounding area that identifies the key items of interest, including the war memorial, old well and old, historic Bible display.
The Square area also features a number of great places to eat — Maple Street Grill, Marina’s and City Café, for example — and lots of neat, diverse shops, ranging from Main Street Toy Store to Leslie’s Shoppe to Bink’s Outfitters. And, if you visit at night, check out the live music at places like Bluesboro and Wall Street. Rutherford County Courthouse Rutherford County Courthouse is located on the Murfreesboro Downtown Square.
The Rutherford County Courthouse is one of only six remaining courthouses built before the Civil War. It is listed on the National Register of Historic Places for its significant architecture, political and military history. The interior of the courthouse has been restored to its 19th century appearance. Hours: Monday-Friday, 8:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m.; Admission: No Admission Charge; Location: Public Square in historic downtown Murfreesboro. For more information, please call 615-898-7745.
City Civic Plaza In 1987 the City of Murfreesboro built a new City Hall and library on an urban site one block east of the county courthouse. The four-acre roof of the parking structure has been transformed into the Murfreesboro Civic Plaza and Gardens. The space provides various opportunities for public gathering and community events and provides significant green space in the heart of the city. The gardens, sloping from the street toward the City Hall and Library, provide lawn seating to complement the circular limestone amphitheater seating.
Opposite the City Hall and Library entrances, the gardens terminate abruptly at the "Outcrop Fountain”, an abstraction of geological substrata and springheads found at the foot of many Tennessee hillsides. The fountain walls are a rich composition of limestone, blue and pink granite, cast glass, and stainless steel accent points. The character of the fountain walls varies throughout the day as the sun's angles change or as a person moves around the perimeter of the fountain. Lighting at night provides interest in shadow patterns and shows off the reflective qualities of polished surfaces.
The Heritage Center Discover the story of the Rutherford County Courthouse and the Murfreesboro Downtown Square through interactive displays, exhibits, public programming and guided tours. The Tennessee Civil War National Heritage Area sponsors “The Occupied City” exhibit, which tells how the town square became an armed Federal camp during the Civil War and explores how the war and the Reconstruction era changed Murfreesboro forever. Other exhibits at the Heritage Center depict Murfreesboro in the Jazz Age and introduce famous people, places and events from throughout Rutherford County. The Heritage Center is also headquarters for Main Street Murfreesboro. Hours: Monday-Friday, 9 a.m.-4 p.m.; Open Saturday 10 a.m.-4 p.m. from April 1-Sept. 1. Admission: No admission charged, Location: 225 West College St., Murfreesboro, TN 37130. For more information, call 615-217-8013.
4. Stones River National Battlefield
Stones River Battlefield is a 650-acre national park and cemetery dedicated to preserving the memory of those who fought and died in this crucial Civil War battle. Living history demonstrations are presented on the weekends during the summer months with a special encampment featured in July.
The visitor center offers a museum and orientation program. Hours: Open daily, 8 a.m.-5 p.m. Closed Christmas Day. Admission: No admission charged, Location: 3501 Old Nashville Highway, Murfreesboro, TN 37129.
And, don’t miss: Fortress Rosecrans Fortress Rosecrans was constructed in early 1863 by Union troops occupying Murfreesboro following the Battle of Stones River. This earthen fortification served as a 200-acre depot used to supply troops as they marched to Atlanta. Today the National Park Service manages the site. Hours: Open year-round (during daylight hours) Admission: No admission charged, Location: Old Fort Park, Golf Lane, Murfreesboro, Tenn. For more information, call 615-893-9501.
5. Oaklands Historic Mansion
Once the center of a 1,500-acre plantation, Oaklands was the home of the Maney family. The house was built in four phases during a 40-year period; Oaklands eventually was transformed into and Italianate mansion with the fourth and final addition in 1857, just a few years before the beginning of the Civil War. During the Civil War, the Maneys were hosts to both Union and Confederate Armies.
The home was the site of Forrest’s Raid and a visit from Confederate President Jefferson Davis in 1862. Hours: Tuesday-Saturday, 10 a.m.-4 p.m., Sunday, 1-4 p.m., closed Mondays, Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Day and New Year’s Day. Last tour begins one hour before closing. Admission: $7 –Adults, $6-Senior Citizens and AAA, $5-children 6-17, Children 5 and under –Free, $5 for students with a college ID; Location: Oaklands Historic House Museum, 900 North Maney Ave., Murfreesboro, TN 37130
6. Cannonsburgh Village
Cannonsburgh, the original name of Murfreesboro, is a reconstructed Southern village. The village serves as a living history museum of early Southern life. Cannonsburgh Village includes: gristmill, one-room schoolhouse, town hall, log home, little white country church, large collection of antique farm equipment, general store, museum and blacksmith’s shop.
Hours: Tuesday-Saturday, 10 a.m.-5 p.m.; Sunday, 1-5 p.m., Monday-Closed; Open late April-Dec. 1, Grounds open year round. Admission: Self-guided tours are free. Guided tours are available for $2.50 per adult, $1.50 per child over age 6. Under 6 is free. Senior Citizens discounts are available. Location: Cannonsburgh Village, 312 South Front St., Murfreesboro, TN 37129. For more information, call 615-890-0355 or Murfreesboro Parks and Recreation Department 615-893-5333
7. Discovery Center at Murfree Spring
Discovery Center at Murfree Spring is an 18,000-square-foot museum with 20 acres of outdoor wetlands accessible via boardwalks, with interpretative signs. Hours: Monday-Saturday, 10 a.m.-5 p.m., Sunday, 1-5 p.m. Admission: Adults-$5, Children $4, under 2 –free. Location: 502 Southeast Broad St., Murfreesboro, TN 37130. For more information, call 615-890-2300.
8. Bradley Academy
Bradley Academy was built in 1917 as a school for black children. A school by that name has been in Murfreesboro and on that site since 1811. President James K. Polk was a graduate of the original Bradley Academy in 1814. This National Register building serves as multiuse cultural and heritage facility. Hours: 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Tuesday-Saturday. Admission: Adults-$5, Seniors & students-$3. Location: 415 South Academy St., Murfreesboro, TN 37130. For more information, call 615-867-2633
The state’s largest undergraduate university has a lot of offer. For the scholarly, the Walker Library is a jewel. For the sports-minded, Murphy Center is worth a look, and the Hall of Fame adjacent to the Greenland parking lot is definitely worth a visit.
Here’s some unique campus features to consider: Naked Eye Observatory-Prior to the invention of the telescope, astronomy was done with the naked eye. MTSU has built a 30-meter diameter, naked-eye observatory to serve as a hands-on teaching tool for astronomy and geometry. The primary goal is for astronomy students to use their own measurements to develop accurate models of how our solar system works and to better appreciate the creativity of ancient astronomers. Typical Uranidrome activities include measuring the axial tilt of the Earth, the latitude and longitude of MTSU, the spin rate and orbital rate of the Earth, the circumference of the Earth, true-north relative to magnetic-north, short-term predictions of eclipses and using the Sun to determine the date and time.
Tennessee Agricultural Pavillion-Virtually every weekend some species of animal, lots of horses, sheep and cows are being shown at the pavilion, located on Greenland Drive across from Reeves-Rogers School. Check the facility’s schedule for those with agricultural interests and children. (And, if you are interested in horses and livestock, MTSU also operates The Tennessee Miller Coliseum, a 222,000-square-foot facility. Situated on 154 acres, this air-conditioned arena has stadium-style seating for 4,600 and stall space to accommodate 492 horses. This deluxe arena is used for local, state, regional, national and international horse show events. Hours: Year-round for special events Admission: No Admission charged, except for special events, Location: 304-B West Thompson Lane, Murfreesboro, TN 37129. For more information, call 615-494-8961
And, since you’re in the MTSU area, definitely take a couple of minutes to see: Geographic Center of Tennessee-In 1834, it was determined that the geographic center of Tennessee is located on Old Lascassas Pike, one mile from the MTSU campus. The Rutherford County Historical Society marked the spot with an obelisk in 1976. Hours: Daylight use only, Admission: No admission charged, Location: Old Lascassas Pike, Murfreesboro, Tennessee. For more information, call 615-893-6565.
These last two will require a trip to Smyrna and would make for a good day.
10. Nissan North America, Inc.
Tour the Nissan North America manufacturing plant in Smyrna where five Nissan brand cars and trucks roll off the lines. Maxima, Altima, Xterra compact SUV, Frontier truck, and Pathfinder SUV. The massive $2.1 billion facility covers 5.4 million square feet on 884 acres. More than one-half million vehicles roll off the line every year, and you are welcome to watch. Hours: Tours are offered Tuesdays and Thursdays at 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. Visitors view a video about the company and then ride the tram on a guided tour of the plant. No children under the age of ten are allowed on the tour. Cameras, including camera phones, are not allowed in the plant. Advance reservations are required. Admission: No admission charged. Location: 983 Nissan Drive, Smyrna, TN 37167. For more information and to make reservations, please call 615-459-1444.
11. Sam Davis Home and Museum
Sam Davis was a young Confederate Civil War soldier who, while acting as a courier, was tried and executed at the age of 21 for refusing to reveal the source of important information he was carrying. The Sam Davis Home, which was built along the banks of Stewarts Creek in 1820, rests on 168 acres of farmland. The two-story home is typical of a Southern, upper middle-class family of those times. A tour includes a documentary video about the life of Sam Davis and a tour through the non-room main house, original kitchen, smokehouse, overseer’s office and privy. Authentic Middle Tennessee slave dwellings can be seen on site. Hours: June-August: Monday-Saturday-9 a.m.-5 p.m.; Sunday-1-5 p.m., September-May: Monday-Saturday-10 a.m.-4 p.m.; Sunday 1-4 p.m. Last tour begins one hour before closing. Admission: Adults-$8.50, Seniors-$6.50, ages 6-12- Children-$3Location: Sam Davis Home and Museum, 1399 Sam Davis Road, Smyrna, TN 37167. For more information, call 615-459-2341.
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