Native American Land Prior to the establishment of Lebanon in 1802, the
area was both the home and the hunting grounds of various Native
American cultures. The most advanced prior to European contact, the
Mississippian culture, was represented by a fortified village on spring
creek near the southern border of Lebanon. Built around a temple mound,
this 13th to 15th centuries village was one of a cluster of similar ones
in the middle Cumberland River Valley.
Cedar Log Buildings The earliest dwellings and government buildings in
Lebanon were built of cedar logs. Some like the Cartwright House
remained in use until the late 1800s.
Sam Houston Sam Houston,
Governor of Tennessee and first President of the Republic of Texas,
began his law practice in 1818 in this log office rented to him by the
Lebanon Postmaster, Isaac Golladay, for one dollar a month.
New Court House In 1848, a new Court House was completed on the southern side of the Public Square to replace the second one in the middle of it. Designed by William Strickland, the Philadelphia architect who also designed the Tennessee State Capitol, it burned in 1881.
Cumberland University was founded in 1842 by the Cumberland Presbyterian Church. Its first permanent building, also designed by William Strickland, was erected in 1844 at the edge of Lebanon on a campus at the corner of present College and East Spring Streets. It housed the university's three schools, Arts, Law, and Theology. Occupied by both Confederate and Federal troops, it was burned during the war between the states.
Public Square Stores This 1859 photograph of the northeastern corner of
the Public Square, shows the typical stores that surrounded it in the
ante-bellum period. Beyond, to the left, can be seen the roof of the
Cumberland Presbyterian Church, the third Strickland Lebanon building.