City Lifestyle

Want to start a publication?

Learn More

Featured Article

Eastward Bound & Determined

A West Coast Influence in La Grange, Tennessee

Jule Eberlin was firmly ensconced in the blissful enclave of La Jolla, California, when she heretically considered a geographic and lifestyle transition. Prompted by a friend who had previously moved from California to the Mid-South, and following a brief period of introspection, she considered doing the same.

Jule (pronounced “Julie”) was educated as an architect and managed a successful design business which involved staging multi-million dollar homes for sale. Tired of ever-escalating regulations and compounded by the challenges of the COVID pandemic, in 2020 she purchased a home in Hickory Valley, Tennessee, sight unseen, and made the move shortly thereafter. However, that was only the beginning of the adventure. 

Jule’s trek eastward to the property took her through La Grange, Tennessee where she fell in love with the town and all of its inhabitants, resulting in the purchase of the antebellum Allen Cogbill house where she now resides. Putting her design and architectural background to task, she has been busy restoring the property to its former glory. However, once again, the story would not end there.

Woodlawn, the stately antebellum Greek revival home occupying a prominent perch on the eastern boundary of La Grange was built in 1828. It served as the West Tennessee headquarters of General William Tecumseh Sherman as well as a hospital during the civil war. General Ulysses S. Grant is also reputed to have been a visitor to the home.

The Bender family of Mobile, Alabama, had owned the property for approximately 40 years, its utilization limited to annual Thanksgiving family gatherings and as a home base during hunting season. It had been on the market four years when discovered by Jule, who appreciated the home’s architectural uniqueness and timelessness. That infatuation was underscored by its historical significance and what she envisioned it could be. She completed the purchase in 2021 and set to work. The home and outbuildings, including a barn, guesthouse, and stable were in a state of disrepair, which Jule was confident could be remedied. 

She proved to be a most gracious host during my recent visit to what I and many others have long admired, but only from a distance. Entering the main gate, I was immediately intrigued by the barnyard appearance of a species that is not normally associated with these environs…a family of eight alpacas. According to Jule, they accompanied the purchase of the home and have now become family. Each spring, a group of transcontinental shearers, working their way from the West Coast to the Eastern seaboard, descends on the estate to ply their trade. The product is transformed into outerwear and blankets, samples of which are displayed on-site.

The house is situated on a bluff transecting two large agricultural fields, which in recent years have produced soybeans and in those past, cotton. The panoramic view is spellbinding and complements the home’s interior which has retained its antebellum flair accentuated by furnishings commensurate with the period. Of course, what would any antebellum mansion be, especially one that served as a civil war hospital, without a ghost story. Jule did not disappoint. She relates that shortly after having her Steinway piano moved on site, she was playing America the Beautiful when there appeared the apparition of a soldier dressed in a grey uniform, sitting in a nearby rocking chair. He apparently was a music lover and when the tune was finished, disappeared, not having yet made a reappearance. True to Jule’s California heritage, it required that a local resident inform her that the uniform was that of a Confederate, an essential historical fact now that she calls the South home.

What's next to follow in this adventure? Jule's plans for Woodlawn are wide-ranging and include a destination for weekend cultural experiences, girlfriend and hunting retreats, family reunions, as well as a venue for concerts and special holiday celebrations. A website is planned, providing an overview of amenities offered. There will also be an opportunity to witness the alpaca shearing come spring, so stay tuned. Thanks to Jule for taking the time to share her story and vision, one that represents a continued source of pride for the community and an opportunity for the public to experience a genteel and bygone era.