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Little Richard’s former Lynchburg home goes on the market for $1.7 million

This drone shot of Little Richard’s Lynchburg home shows it nestled in one of the most picturesque hilltops in Moore County. The over 6,000 square foot home sits on around 20 acres just off Highway 50. (Photo Courtesy of Baker & Cole Realty)

By Tabitha Evans Moore | Editor & Publisher

Down a long, winding state highway and up a steep drive leading to the top of one of Moore County’s most gorgeous rolling hills sits the former home of one of the founding fathers of rock-n-roll. It’s a sprawling, over 6,000 square foot, seven bedroom home that sits on 20 acres. Until recently, only a select few locals even knew that the house existed and those who did know didn’t talk about it much in order to protect the privacy of its beloved owner, one Richard Wayne Penniman – known to the world at large as Little Richard.

The house went on the market this week after a brief renovation.

A home with rockstar energy

It’s a random weekday when Joey Quick receives a call from realtor, Lisa Cole, about a new listing in Moore County. Quick lives just outside Tullahoma on the Normandy Lake and is a name familiar to many in Moore County. Cole, who works as one half of Baker & Cole Realty, had been looking through the local real estate hot sheets when she came upon a very large square foot home located in Moore County at a reasonable price.

“I knew Joey flipped houses and renovated them and I thought it might be something he would be interested in,” says Cole.

Quick says at first he decided to take a look at the property just to get a star-struck peek at the rock legend’s home.

“I just wanted to see the property out of sheer curiosity, but then I just kind of fell in love with it. I love the fact that I can look at that Warranty Deed and it says from Richards Wayne Penniman to William J. Quick. That’s very cool and something I’ll frame and keep close my whole life.”

Little Richard had not lived at 318 Merrell Lane in many years. In 2009, he began having trouble walking due to sciatica and in November, he entered Vanderbilt University Medical Center for hip replacement surgery. Despite the surgery, his hip issues persisted and he used a wheelchair for the final few years of his life. From then until his death, he split time between southern, middle Tennessee and Nashville. The fact that Little Richard lived in a hotel penthouse suite near his Music City Walk of Fame Star was one of the worst kept secrets in Nashville. He died on May 9, 2020 at a relative’s home in Tullahoma. He’s buried in Huntsville, Alabama.

Quick says that even though Little Richard had not lived there for many years, when he originally entered the home the rock-n-roll legend’s energy vibrated throughout the space. Large chandeliers hung from the ceiling on his side of the home. Arched doorways scattered throughout – implying a lifetime of grand entrances. Walls were painted in shades of Richard’s signature bright purple along with baby blue, avocado, turquoise, salmon pink, and even gold.

“The color schemes, the bright purples and light lilac, were clearly all him,” says Cole. “They were definitely colors you’d find in an artist’s home.”

Two houses under one roof

Little Richard moved from California to Tennessee sometime in the 90’s. Before he arrived, he instructed his sister to build a home for the two of them on land she owned in Moore County.

“From what I understand from talking to builders and other real estate agents, Little Richard designed the entire thing with the help of an architect. The structure’s basically two separate houses under one roof.,” Quick said.

When Quick purchased the home, the 6,000 square foot home was divided into two distinct sides with two kitchens, two garages, two meters, and two separate front entrances. The right side led to Little Richard’s space and the left side to his sister’s living quarters. An interesting quirk of the home is a thick, concrete walled safe room/tornado shelter that existed as the only way to enter one side from the other – other than the front doors.

An interesting quirk of the home is a thick, concrete walled safe room/tornado shelter that existed as the only way to enter one side from the other – other than the front doors. (Photo Courtesy of Baker & Cole Realty)

“He designed the space in order for them to live together, separately,” Quick jokes.

Little Richard’s side of the home contained hints that a rock star once lived there. His bedroom stands out as a space designed for someone special. Prior to the renovation, the bedroom walls of the master bedroom boasted bright shades of purple and light lilac – Little Richards signature colors – and his large, oversized bedroom furniture seem suited for rock royalty. The bathroom contained a deep jacuzzi tub and a tray ceiling.

“The acoustics in the bathroom are fantastic,” says Quick. “I’m not sure if he designed it that way but sometimes when I stand in here, I can just hear him singing. It would have sounded great.”

Another hint that a rock star once walked the halls of the home is the long gallery wall just on the other side of Little Richard’s bedroom with spot lighting and gallery mounted hardware that must have held Little Richard’s Gold Record Awards and other precious memorabilia.

“There were a few items left behind in the house when I took possession including a pair of shoes that he wore during performances and some uncashed royalty checks,” Quick says. “We also found a contract with Walt Disney Studios in the amount of over $80,000 for a two-night performance.”

Quick and Cole assume that two additional bedrooms near Little Richard’s master bedroom with a separate bathroom and laundry room belonged to Little Richard’s bodyguards who were ever present during his time in Lynchburg.

Wants the house to belong to someone who loved Little Richard

Quick says he approached the renovation with reverence and was careful just to repair and update without changing the character and thought Little Richard put into the home – changing very little from the original design. Contractors repainted the bright walls in more neutral grays and the carpets were replaced with hardwood flooring. Quick added a new granite and tile throughout the entire home.

“I knew this was a good solid house with great bones and a unique history,” says Quick. “This is a local piece of his legacy. As I made small changes over the past several weeks, I’ve thought to myself several times that I’d want him to be happy and proud of what I did.”

When we ask Quick and Cole who they think the ideal person to own the home next would be, they agree that they’d love for the house to belong to someone who understood exactly what Little Richard meant to American music. Quick says he recently watched Bruno Mars tribute to Little Richard at the 2021 GRAMMY’s and it made him realize just how much one of our “Lynchburg locals” had meant to the world.

Little Richard’s former home at 318 Merrell Lane went back on the market this week. You can view the listing by clicking here. Obviously both Quick and Cole only plan to show it to serious buyers but you can take a virtual tour by clicking this link. There is also drone footage of the home that you can view on YouTube by following this link. •

{The Lynchburg Times is the only independently owned and operated newspaper in Lynchburg, Tennessee. We cover Metro Moore County government, Jack Daniel’s Distillery, Nearest Green Distillery, Tims Ford State Park, Motlow State Community College, Moore County High School, Moore County Middle School, Lynchburg Elementary, Raider Sports, plus regional and state news.}

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