Wandering the streets of Granville, Tennessee, it’s hard not to imagine Sheriff Andy Taylor — played by Andy Griffith — and his deputy, Barney Fife — played by Don Knotts — strolling down the street and dealing with one shenanigan after another.
When you step along the main street of Granville, located 1 hour and 15 minutes east of Nashville, on the banks of the Cumberland River, you’re stepping back in time. You could very well be in your own episode of The Andy Griffith Show, and that’s exactly how the denizens of Granville, Tennessee, want you to feel.
Known as Tennessee’s “Mayberry Town,” historic Granville is a quaint little town filled with vintage general stores, Americana museums, and a slow, quiet pace that invites visitors to “sit a spell.” I was able to visit this charming area during a hosted trip to Tennessee and Granville was one of my favorite stops.
Operated by about 200 volunteers, this picturesque Tennessee community is a real-life “Mayberry,” based on the iconic Andy Griffith Show of the 1960s. Though the show was based on the actor’s hometown of Mount Airy, North Carolina, historic Granville adopted the moniker of “Tennessee’s Mayberry” by becoming a city-wide tribute to the show.
From the historic T.B. Sutton General Store to the community play that reenacts episodes of The Andy Griffith Show for visitors of the Mayberry – I Love Lucy Museum, a day in historic Granville is truly a step back in time, when neighbors all knew each other and chatted while lounging on covered front porches.
Here’s how you can take a step back in time visiting Tennessee’s Mayberry town of historic Granville.
Where Is Granville?
Located in the Upper Cumberland region of Tennessee, this little old-fashioned town of 300 is located 1 hour and 15 minutes from Nashville on Cordell Hull Lake. Thanks to a recent $2.5 million expansion, a new lodge at Wildwood Resort & Marina on the Cumberland River, and the development of three bed and breakfasts in Granville, the little community is getting more and more popular. The drive from Nashville will bring you along Interstate 40 to Gordonsville, where you’ll take State Highway 264 to Elmwood, and then Highway 53 from Elmwood into Granville.
Pro Tip: The Wildwood Resort & Marina is a lovely place to call home while visiting Granville. It’s located only 11 miles from Interstate 40 and offers lakeside lodging, cabins, vintage Airstreams, cottages, and the Lakeside Inn. The restaurant onsite offers high-scale dining and killer steaks, as well as delicious cocktails and a deck that has some of the best views of the sunset. You can also book a Pontoon Excursion for a sunset cruise of the lake, a breakfast cruise, or a Champagne Brunch Cruise on weekends.
History Of Granville
Granville was a successful riverboat town from the mid-1800s until 1920. When riverboat travel ended, Granville turned to farming and was a successful agricultural town, until the Cordell Hull Dam was built in the early 1970s.
The new lake covered the farmland, and Granville was destined to fade away and become just another ghost town.
“This town has been here before Tennessee was the state,” said Liz Huff Bennett, Granville volunteer and tour guide. “Our ancestors came from Granville County, North Carolina, and settled here. We were a steamboat town. When Cordell dam came in, we became a ghost town.”
The pride in the little village, however, didn’t die, and in 1997, a group of citizens wanted to restore the historic First Methodist Church in Granville, which was celebrating its 100th anniversary.
“From there, different things started happening, and we started restoring one thing at a time,” said Bennett. “We started in 1999. The second year, we opened the T.B. Sutton General Store with two provisions — we had to do a bluegrass dinner show and we had to have it open Wednesday through Saturday. We opened on April 5, 2008, and every show is broadcasted on the radio in every state in the U.S. People started coming here saying ‘well, I feel like I’m in Mayberry.’ And so from that, we created a Mayberry town.”
While Granville recreated itself to restore the vintage buildings and become a destination, native Randall Clemons and other volunteers created a slew of festivals and events to give visitors a taste of life from a simpler era.
Things To Do In Granville
You’ll need a whole day to explore all that this unincorporated little town has to offer. Your first stop should be The Granville Museum, which highlights the history and life of this small farming community. Exhibits include the photographic collection of Vincent B. “Moe” DeNardo — a soldier in Granville during World War II — and photographs and artifacts that tell Granville’s story over the years.
You can’t visit Granville without stopping in the T.B. Sutton General Store, a two-story 1865 landmark with four shops and a restaurant serving up southern comfort food and hoe cakes.
On Saturday nights, the T.B. Sutton Store also hosts the Sutton Ole Time Music Hour, a bluegrass dinner show similar to the Grand Ole Opry — even with live commercials — that is broadcasted across the nation.
History and pop culture come alive at Granville’s many museums, including the Mayberry – I Love Lucy Museum, which features collections from two of America’s best-loved TV shows. You can stroll through Floyd’s barbershop, “meet” Aunt Bee, Opie, and other characters, and relive the crazy antics of Lucy and Ricky Ricardo.
The Sutton Homeplace & Pioneer Village is a 19th-century home that has been restored with authentic furnishings showing the daily life of the first settlers in the area. The new Farm to Table Museum, which opened in 2020, highlights the history of historic farms in Middle Tennessee.
For the whisky lovers out there, the 2,600 decanters filled with Jim Beam whiskey can be seen at the Granville Whisky Decanter Museum, and the Granville Car Museum has an impressive collection of antique cars and automobiles from bygone days.
Be sure to explore the Sutton Homestead and Pioneer Village as well, or take a guided tour of historic Granville with one of the many volunteers and historians. All the sites are open Wednesday through Saturday.
“Granville really is a step back through time,” said Bennett. “Mayberry is a concept and an idea. Everyone said Granville is like a real-life Mayberry, so that’s what we became.”
Pro Tip: There’s no bad time to visit Tennessee’s Mayberry Town. Events and festivals are held year-round, and in the spring, the Sutton Store Players portray iconic episodes from The Andy Griffith Show with an outdoor dinner show.
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