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James L. Fite House/ Fite-Fessenden House/ Fite-Fessenden Museum and Community Events Center

Updated: Apr 18

The James L. Fite House sits at 236 West Main St. in Lebanon. Styled with both Greek Revival and Italianate elements, the 2 story house was begun in 1852 and finished after the Civil War by Dr. James Leonidas Fite (1836-1893) and Emma E. Norman Fite (1845-1928). They wed in 1866.


By 1862, Fite had become a doctor and served as surgeon in the Seventh Tennessee Infantry Regiment of the Confederate Army. In 1891, Fite’s daughter, Margaret “Maggie” Norman Fite Harsh (1871-1963), started a private elementary day school for girls in the house. Margaret wed William George Harsh (1873-1898). Dr. Fite died two years later. The school opened as the Maggie Harsh School and later was renamed the Alberta School. Maggie ran it until she left Tennessee.

After William died, Maggie married Ewing Graham and moved to Palm Beach, FL.



Photo by Brian Stansberry



From 1917-1920, Virginia Tomlinson Wooten moved her preparatory school to the Fite House which Margaret still owned. William Henry (W. H.) Fessenden (1885-1951) and Sallie Barry Peyton Fessenden (1899-1983) bought the property in 1921. Fessenden owned the Fessenden Coal Company in Lebanon.


After Sallie Barry passed away in 1983, the property was transferred to the History Associates of Wilson County and called the Wilson County Museum at the Fessenden House. In 2020, the property is called the Fite-Fessenden House Museum and Community Events Center. NRHP 1985


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