By Matt Masters

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The Corley & Sons General Store and Mt. Juliet Museum officially opened Thursday with a ribbon cutting celebration.

The 24-hour museum is not easily missed as it features a bright red Texaco gas pump and telephone booth in front, next to City Hall on North Mt. Juliet Road. Inside, it features dozens of collectible items and memorabilia from days of yesteryear.

The items, which include vintage cameras, an antique Pepsi machine, Texaco signs and varieties of coffees, tobaccos and other products, are kept behind large display windows cases on either side. The outside is modeled after an old general store.

The museum is the work of longtime Mt. Juliet resident Fred Corley and Mt. Juliet City Manager Kenny Martin.

Corley has collected antiques and memorabilia for years, and in preparation for a move to Clarksville, he and his family decided their collection of history would best be used to welcome new Mt. Juliet residents and educate them on the history of the city with a look at the goods and wares that made up many small Southern towns.

Martin said the welcome center will tie generations of Mt. Juliet residents and visitors together through the history of the town.

“To know where you’re going, you’ve got to know where you came from,” Martin said. “We’ve got to hang onto our history and our past instead of just forgetting about it, and Mt. Juliet and Wilson County in general is quickly growing. So this is just a way of bringing back [things] for those of us old enough to remember this like this and even the younger folks to learn how far technology has come.”

Corley said the new attraction gives his beloved collectables a new secure and climate-controlled home that will serve as a place to welcome new residents into a community that has both a history to remember and a future to forge with each new member.

“What I wanted to do was to keep the remainder of my collection in tact, so I contacted Kenny Martin, and I said, ‘If you will build a welcome and information center for the city somewhere, I will let you take my collection and use it for decoration,’” Corley said.

“What I want this museum to do is just to be an attraction for new people coming to Mt. Juliet, to be able to come to one place and find out, how do I get my car registered, who’s my city commissioner, what’s the current events, get a history of the city and the county and to see basically how they can be involved in Mt. Juliet. So this is just an attraction to invite newcomers, guests and people who are curious about Mt Juliet [and have] an avenue to stop by and find out and learn a little bit about our city and our county.”