MILTON, Tenn. — It wasn’t even remotely in Phillip Vaught’s thoughts that fateful rainy Saturday morning in February to buy the old country store building in Milton that was for sale.
On his way to Murfreesboro from his home in Auburntown, Vaught decided to run by the auction for a minute and see how the sale was going. Like most in the community, he was curious what the final selling price would be for the well-known landmark that has faithfully stood as a gathering place in this tiny hamlet for more than 100 years. When the gavel fell, he knew exactly the final bid because he made it.
After months of extensive restoration, the much-anticipated grand opening of The Gathering at Milton, a historic event venue will be celebrated Saturday, Oct. 13, with a Fall Market and Craft Fair. The century-old building sits near the Milton Post Office. Formerly, it was Manuel’s Cajun Country Store and earlier Cherry’s Market, where everything from flour to feed was sold.
The vision of new owners Alanna and Phillip Vaught to bring back the location as a place for people to gather comes alive from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. for a great autumn day of making memories in Milton. Nestled 15 miles northeast of Murfreesboro, just off state Route 96 past Lascassas, the town will buzz with music, food trucks, including Good ‘Ol Sloppy Top and carefully selected vendors.
Booths will be set up inside and outside on the adjacent lawn, with mouth-watering baked goods, high-quality goods and crafts, original artwork, clothing, vintage items, antiques and more — plus, the first 100 people arriving will receive a fresh and hot, sugar-cinnamon mini-doughnut from The Dapper Doughnut.
“This was the heartbeat of the community, where family and friends gathered. Thinking about that is how I came up with our name,” Alanna Vaught said. “We want it to continue to be the gathering place at Milton, where people come and make memories for the next 100 years.”
Charming details such as an overhead twine dispenser that provided string to secure paper-wrapped purchases, an alcove where a sturdy desk-style phone probably once sat, the original, exterior lap siding, the large and bright storefront windows and beadboard ceiling and a welcoming front porch are some of the treasures that have been preserved and awaiting guests at The Gathering at Milton.
“Maybe I’m a little crazy,” Phillip Vaught said. “But I like a project and part of me hated to see a piece of history slipping away. Alanna and I are both passionate about the potential of this area. We are raising our family on a farm nearby and we think there is a great future here.”
The venue has an interior capacity of 99, perfect for an intimate wedding, birthday and anniversary celebrations or family reunions, parties, seminars and meetings. It can expand for larger groups, utilizing the outdoor space. Additionally, there is a serving kitchen for caterers.
More than 50 Fall Market and Craft Fair vendors will pack the location to the brim and include: Brown’s Mill Bakery, Milton Metal Works, local artists LaDonna Bell and Donald Ray Alexander and Sparta, Tennessee, woodworking artisan Kenneth Gunnell. Also attending will be Linda Asberry and Rick Clendenon with The Painted Farmhouse in McMinnville, Tennessee, The Olive Branch and their hand-crafted macaroons, plus others who can be found on the venue’s Facebook page.
Children will be sure to enjoy a petting zoo provided by Mill Creek Farms and a John Deere tractor-themed bounce house and slide.
The band, Texarkana, will perform from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.
The Gathering at Milton is located at 12026 Milton St., 37118. Admission: $5 for adults and free for children 12-and-younger. For more information about the fall event or to inquire about rental: facebook.com/thegatheringatmilton, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 615-653-6018.