Lebanon, the county seat, is known for its historic Public Square, formed in 1802 over the Town Spring. Since its founding, the Public Square has been a center of commerce and community for Wilson County and the city of Lebanon.
The Square has been shaped by several fires which destroyed whole blocks of the original buildings. Most of the structures today date from the late 1880s to the 1930s. Lebanon’s Square has hosted speeches and political events staged by luminaries such as William Jennings Bryan, Frank G. Clement and Sam Houston. It’s been the site of military parades with General Patton and his Second Armored Division during the WWII maneuvers headquartered at Cumberland University. First Monday Mule Day sales were a monthly event on the Square until 1939. Four county courthouses have called the Square home including the third version designed in 1848 by William Strickland, architect of the Tennessee State Capitol building. And perhaps, most importantly, from the days of its earliest stores and “ordinarys”, the Square has been the home of numerous businesses. In 1803, a quarter century before being elected President, Andrew Jackson owned a store on the Public Square.
Lebanon’s Square was placed on the National Register of Historic Places as a Historic Commercial District in 1999. In the fall of 2013, Lebanon was accepted into the Tennessee Main Street program. This designation gives Historic Lebanon the opportunity to not only preserve the Public Square but to expand the focus to the surrounding blocks and area that encompasses the historic downtown core. This entire Main Street District is a vibrant spot for shopping, entertainment, and heritage tourism.