LAWRENCE COUNTY, Tenn. (WKRN) — The Wilburn Mill in Leoma is having a renaissance after a couple from Florida purchased the historic property in 2020.
“It was a November day, we drive down here, park right over there, open the doors, and you can hear the sound, and it was like love at first sound,” said Piper Smith, co-owner of the property as she described the water spinning in the mill.
Smith and her husband, Chris, have been in the business of preserving history for years.
“It’s just like a little slice of paradise to me,” Smith continued, “It’s magic: the water, the greens, the air is clean. The people are just phenomenal.”
The original mill, built in 1823, burned down during the Civil War. Half a century later, a second mill was built, which is still standing with an operational gristmill and sawmill.
Smith admitted she wasn’t familiar with the history, but now feels like they’ve struck gold after hearing from neighbors.
“People come by, with pictures, and stories, and memorabilia,” she said.
Roy and Connie Hagan live nearby. Roy said his ancestors helped settle the land.
“For me personally, it began in the early 60’s, I was born in 58, and my dad would bring me down here to the general store,” Roy recalled.
The original General Store next to the mill was torn down due to structural damage, but a new one is just months away from completion.
“This belongs to the people of the Fall River Community, and we want them to enjoy it, and share those memories they had growing up,” said Smith.
You can only imagine how the Hagan’s felt when they learned the Smith’s were planning to preserve the property.
“Words can’t describe that either, I’m just speechless on that part. I don’t know what word I’d put with it, but just super, super, blessed, excited, just glad to have an opportunity to help in whatever small way we can,” said Roy.
Rebuilding the General Store is just the beginning.
“We want to have live music here; we want to serve food here; we want a place where people can come out on the weekends, enjoy the water, the sounds, and just reconnect; and put their cellphones down; and just get back to the way things were,” said Smith.
The opening of the store is set for sometime this summer.
Additionally, Smith said they are hosting Music at the Mill in October to raise money for the local volunteer fire department.
“I’ve had the good fortune to travel to a lot of locations, but I have to tell you, this is like my favorite. It’s just amazing,” said Smith.