Pickett Chapel was the first Methodist church in the town of Lebanon, Tennessee. It was founded in 1827 by Lebanon’s first Methodist congregation, but was physically built by enslaved African Americans. Pickett Chapel was home to both white and black congregants from its founding 1827 to 1856, when the white congregation outgrew the Chapel and moved to a new church building. In 1866, thirty freedmen purchased Pickett Chapel from the Tennessee Conference of the Methodist Church and established a new congregation, Pickett Chapel Methodist Episcopal Church, that held services there until 1973 when the African American congregation outgrew the Chapel and moved to a new church building. For the next three decades, Pickett Chapel served a variety of functions, but was primarily home to community theater groups “Sound & Light” and “The Chapel Playhouse.” Pickett Chapel entered the 21st century still standing, but in disrepair and in need of attention. The Wilson County Black History Committee purchased Pickett Chapel in 2007 with the vision to restore it and establish an African American museum and cultural center.
After a decade of progress on the restoration, the nearly two hundred year old sanctuary is now structurally sound with a new roof, restored cornice, cupola and belfry, drainage, and entrance way. Through public and private donations and other support, the Wilson County Black History Committee has raised and invested approximately $200,000 to date in support of the restoration. Now that the building is structurally sound and the exterior improvements are complete, the Committee has turned its attention toward planning for th restoration of the interior of the sanctuary.