While driving from Nashville to Memphis there is a bit of musical history that’s not to be missed. In Brownsville, Tennessee an old blacks-only schoolhouse has been restored and turned into a museum honoring the legacy of its student-turned-superstar, Anna Mae Bullock, better known as Tina Turner.
The one-room Flagg Grove School was one of the first schools for African Americans in the South, built in the 1880s. It was originally located in the small town of Nutbush, where Turner grew up (you may remember her song “Nutbush City Limits”?) and attended grade school in the rustic building in the 1940s.
Located in the old schoolhouse, the Tina Turner museum includes a collection of photographs of the beloved diva, her outlandish dresses and costumes including outfits from some of her most famous performances, old yearbooks, and gold and platinum records.
The schoolhouse remained in use up until the 1960s, after which it stood as an old barn until 2012 when it was restored and moved to its current location off Interstate 40. The museum was opened with the help and guidance of Turner, as well as donations from her fans. It is part of the West Tennessee Delta Heritage Center, which also includes the childhood home of blues musician Sleepy John Estes, located next door, and exhibits dedicated to the area’s heritage and musical history, namely the blues.
Though the schoolhouse and its museum are small, they’re well worth the stop off the highway. The people at the center are very welcoming and there are frequent musical events worth checking out.
Know Before You Go
The museum is right off of Music Highway (I-40) at Exit 56, plenty of easy parking. The museum is open 7 days a week - easy access from the highway and entry is free.