Monday, December 17, 2007

Christmas Barn at Cal Turner's Farm

C2hristmas-time has brought a new tradition to those who travel down Franklin Road (U.S. 31) in Brentwood, TN (which is a suburb of Nashville). As a traveler, the stream of fancy businesses turns into newer mansions, and then appearing is a wide-open space that looks like it has been preserved in time. From behind a small hill and a green fence emerge an old barn with a mural of the star of Bethlehem giving light to several barnyard animals.

Cal Turner's Christmas Barn

Everything I have written on this blog to date has been for barns with advertisements painted on the barn. This one is different. Nothing is being advertised, but instead, the season is celebrated. The barn isn't painted, but instead, a 400-pound mural is carefully unwrapped and placed on this barn every December. After Christmas has passed, The mural is carefully taken down and put into storage not to be seen for another 11 months.

The farm now belongs to the Turner family. Cal Turner, Sr. was the founder of the Dollar General. Cal Jr. succeeded Sr. as president of the company but also has taken over the farm. Brentwood, like many cities has seen much growth over the decades, and many of the rural areas around the farm aren't rural anymore. Many real estate developers are anxiously waiting for the day this prime land can be turned into more mansions, or maybe even more retail stores. But for now, it's remains a farm and the 60 year old barn serves as a reminder as what life was like in the area decades ago.

Closeup of Christmas Mural

The 48' x 38' over-sized Christmas card was first seen in 1996. Turner Jr. commissioned local art-teacher Chris Tibbot to paint the mural. However, the art is not going to last forever. The painting is fragile since it is exposed to the elements. in years past, they had decided that they couldn't put it up anymore. So far, though, they think it can make it one more winter. This might be the last year it is shown or maybe next year, they'll bring it out for the last time again. Even the barn has become a concern. It was built in the 1940's, but over the years, it has slowly deteriorated to the point where now it's not used for anything other than the yearly display. A fierce storm came through this year that uprooted some of the nearby trees, but the barn held on.

Cal Turner's barn

Other things of note from the barn. On the left is a portable light which will illuminate the barn some nights during the season. The animals in the painting are sheep and donkeys and one white Charolais cow, which used to bred on this farm and were known as "Cal's cows." The large radio tower which is about a mile away is the signal tower for WSM 650 AM, the legendary station which has been the "home of the Grand Old Opry." At the time of the tower's construction in the 1930's it was called the tallest radio tower in the world. I'd like to get a picture at night, but so far, the light hasn't been on any time I've driven by.

See it on the map HERE. If you live in the area and are thinking about seeing it for yourself, this really could be the last year it's up, and they could take it down the day after Christmas.


Anonymous Maisie said...

Well written article.

12:41 AM, November 11, 2008  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I work for Southeast Tennessee Toruism Association. I saw some of your shots on (bledsoe county barn) They are great. SETTA represents 10 counties that make up southeast TN. What I am wondering is if i could use them on our website. We are a small org. and need photos for our site but that can be expensive. We would put your name on the page giving you photo credit. Please email me as soon as possible.

2:05 PM, November 19, 2008  
Blogger Princess said...

Hello! I am an artist in Nebraska and am wondering about this beautiful mural. Is it still being displayed? If it is not being displayed at the Turners would you consider displaying it in Nebraska? I have the perfect spot for it on a new barn at a place called The Roost. The gentleman that owns the Roost is from Tennessee and really is impressed with the piece. He has asked me to reproduce it for his barn. But if the original is available I would love to help restore it and display it here for Nebraskans to enjoy.
For my design blog at

11:54 AM, November 07, 2009  
Blogger Princess said...

If the original is not available. I have a few questions: HOw long did it take to paint it? Did you paint it in sections and then piece the sections on the barn? Did you do it in stages? I am also interested in the materials you chose for the piece as well as how it was hung/kept in place on the barn. I've been thinking about this piece non-stop since I was asked to reproduce it. It is so beautiful and inspiring. What a great message to share with the world.

For my design blog at

12:02 PM, November 07, 2009  
Blogger BrentKMoore said...

These are all excellent questions, Princess. Unfortunately, I am not the one to ask, as I only photographed the barn, I didn't design it.

4:43 AM, November 10, 2009  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

i without a doubt adore your writing way, very helpful.
don't quit as well as keep creating due to the fact it just simply worth to look through it.
excited to view more and more of your current posts, have a good day ;)

8:52 PM, March 21, 2010  
Anonymous BrentwoodMom said...

Well, it looks like 2010 turned out to be the last year it was displayed. Severe winds damaged the barn earlier this year (2011) and the barn had to be brought down. Cars were stopped all along Franklin Rd that day as this memorable barn that had come to mean so much to our community, especially at Christmas, had to be razed.

8:22 AM, December 14, 2011  

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