Castle Heights Military Academy

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Lebanon City Hall occupies one of the buildings at the former Castle Heights Military Academy

Castle Heights Military Academy was a private military academy in Lebanon, Tennessee, United States. It opened in 1902, became a military school in 1918, and closed in 1986.

The Academy was founded in 1902 as Castle Heights School by David Mitchell, President of Cumberland University, also in Lebanon, and Isaac W. P. Buchanan, a mathematics professor there, together with A. W. Hooker and Laban Rice,[1][2][3][4] an English professor who served as the school's headmaster and was later also President of Cumberland University. It was initially coeducational; it became a military preparatory school for boys in 1918 as a result of World War I.[3]

In 1928, Castle Heights Military Academy was struggling financially and was bought for $100,000 by Bernarr Macfadden; the Bernarr Macfadden Foundation operated it until 1974. An auditorium and gymnasium were built and named for Macfadden, and Mitchell's house, purchased from his heirs in 1936 and used to house the junior school, was called Macfadden Hall. Macfadden required the students to eat salads every day, not to use condiments or pillows, to participate in sports, and to drink so much milk that the school acquired a dairy. Students' height and weight appeared on their monthly report cards.[5] In 1954 the school had grown to almost 500 students, had a 150-acre campus including a hospital, and operated a summer camp.[3] In 1963 Sanford Naval Academy was founded in Sanford, Florida, as a sister institution.[6]

Despite a return to coeducation in 1970,[3] the school ceased operations in 1986 in the face of declining enrollment and debt.[1][7] Its buildings have been restored and now serve as the Lebanon City Hall, Lebanon Museum and History Center and the headquarters of Sigma Pi Fraternity, among other small businesses. Previously undeveloped areas of campus have been subdivided and now feature businesses such as banks and nursing homes. Records and other school memorabilia are maintained by Cumberland University.[1] The Mitchell House is now part of the headquarters of the holding company for Cracker Barrel Old Country Store.[2]

Prominent alumni[edit]


  • James A. Crutchfield, Hail, Castle Heights! An Illustrated History of Castle Heights School and Castle Heights Military Academy, Castle Heights Alumni Association (2003). ISBN 0-944275-12-5
  1. ^ a b c "Lebanon, Tennessee: A Tour of Our City" (PDF). Lebanon/Wilson County Chamber of Commerce. Archived from the original (PDF) on June 15, 2007. Retrieved February 5, 2007. 
  2. ^ a b c "Meet Your Neighbor". The Wilson Post: Wilson Living Magazine. January 4, 2009. 
  3. ^ a b c d e f "Preparatory Academies and Vanderbilt University: Castle Heights Military Academy, 1902–1986". Vanderbilt University Special Collections. August 24, 2006. Retrieved September 5, 2016. 
  4. ^ "Military Academy Founder Dies". St. Petersburg Times. St. Petersburg, Florida. Associated Press. December 26, 1943. p. 2. 
  5. ^ Beck, Ken (April 29, 2009). "The fanatical millionaire who saved Castle Heights". The Wilson Post (Mark Adams, Mr. America: How Muscular Millionaire Bernarr Macfadden Transformed the Nation Through Sex, Salad, and the Ultimate Starvation Diet). 
  6. ^ Langdord, David L. (December 22, 1970). "Military Schools Are Facing Problems, Some Close Doors". Ludington Daily News. United Press International. p. 7. 
  7. ^ Eblen, Tom (September 3, 1986). "Military schools enjoying comeback in South". The Tuscaloosa News. Cox News Service. p. 17. 
  8. ^ Beck, Ken (March 1, 2013). "Gregg Allman lets it all hang out". The Wilson Post. 
  9. ^ "Heights National Alumni Association Newsletter" (PDF). Castle Heights Military Academy. June 2015. Retrieved September 5, 2016. 
  10. ^ Borrone, Bert (July 31, 1957). "Suspicion Grows That Marciano Is Using Role As Coach Of Rademacher As Stepping Stone To Comeback Try". Park City Daily News. Bowling Green, Kentucky. p. 13. 

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 36°12′47″N 86°18′22″W / 36.21306°N 86.30611°W / 36.21306; -86.30611