Meet Maury County’s Dazzling Downtown Districts
An amazing arts scene, fabulous coffee, eclectic shops and new developments are shaping these vibrant city centers.
When Daniel Petersen bought the Columbia Arts Building (CAB) in the summer of 2022, he could sense its significance as a cultural center of sorts in the heart of Maury County.
That was partly because the building’s previous owner, Holly Freeman, had given the structure its name and, in a sense, its purpose as a cornerstone of the Columbia Arts District.
The CAB, which dates to 1945 and once served as a wholesale grocery distribution operation, was already offering a vast array of classes such as pottery, painting and mixed media. It also hosted musicians, poets and other artisan performers. In short, it continues to breathe life into the city’s historic arts district.
Petersen, a developer who lives in nearby Franklin, planned from the start to keep Freeman’s vision intact as a nurturing center for artists and creative types.
“I like artistic people, creative people,” he says. “I like being around that culture. With a lot of them being in the creative field and in such a cool building, it was a no-brainer for me.”
What’s more, he wants to see the CAB increasingly grow as an arts and culture focal point for downtown Columbia and Maury County.
“I want to make this into something that people in Franklin and Brentwood and even Nashville start hearing about for its art scene and culture,” he says.
“I think art is a very important element of bringing cultured people to a place. If you have a place that’s known for art and produces art and teaches art, then over time you’re going to have people creating good art, which means people are going to start buying it and people are going to come and see it.”
Bright Future Ahead
The City of Columbia approved a $2.1 million streetscape enhancement project in 2022 that will include the installation of a streetscape on South Garden Street in the Columbia Arts District.
A Thriving Downtown
Petersen is just one of several local business owners, residents and city officials who have been reimagining historic spaces in the downtown areas of Maury County.
Also playing a role in the city’s downtown vibrancy are businesses like Muletown Coffee, which is expanding into a larger space two doors down from its original location. The fresh-roasted coffee is still fabulous, and so are the hot and iced teas.
The restaurant scene is a key part of downtown Columbia’s cultural growth as well.
Of particular note is McCreary’s Irish Pub & Eatery, a new dining spot on South Main in Columbia that offers quality food and drink in a casual atmosphere. If you want to keep with the Irish theme of the restaurant, try the Dublin pot pie or the County Cork brown butter shrimp along with a traditional Irish coffee.
‘So Much to Offer’
In Mount Pleasant, meanwhile, just a couple of years after it was designated an official Tennessee Main Street Community, a significant transformation is taking place.
Cleo Lemberg, owner of A Pinch of the Past Antiques LLC – which opened in downtown Mount Pleasant in 2022 – is part of the quaint town’s revival.
Originally from South America, Lemberg became attracted to Mount Pleasant through visits to her mother-in-law, a native of Maury County. “I grew up in a small town in Peru,” Lemberg says. “Everybody there knows everybody, and Mount Pleasant had that same appeal.”
A Pinch of the Past has an eclectic offering that includes fine furnishings, beautiful antiques, home décor and artisanal jewelry, as well as fresh flowers and delicious baked goods.
The shop also features items from JJ Ashley’s, a shop that Lemberg had previously managed. “Mount Pleasant has so much to offer,” Lemberg says. “It’s changing, it’s growing, and we’re really making a difference.”
Stirring in Spring Hill
Plenty of construction is happening in Spring Hill, including an announcement that a United States Tennis Association complex will be built at The Crossings shopping complex, just east of the movie theater. The USTA facility will host 30 to 35 tournaments a year on indoor and outdoor tennis courts and pickleball courts, and the courts will open to the public when not being used for tournaments, says Pamela Caskie, Spring Hill city administrator.
“With the USTA complex will come hotels, restaurants and additional roads,” she says.
A number of developments are also in the works, including the planned 18-acre project at Derryberry Lane and Port Royal Road that will commence in 2023. Also already under construction are mixed-use developments such as South Pointe Square off Port Royal Road and Kedron Square off Kedron Road.
Another massive mixed-use development under construction is June Lake, which will ultimately have 2,900 homes, stores, restaurants, office space, hotels, a greenway system and an 11-acre lake. An interchange along Interstate 65 at Exit 56 is scheduled to open in June 2023 to access June Lake.
“There are certainly some exciting things happening throughout the city these days,” Caskie says.
– Staff Writer Kevin Litwin contributed to this article.
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