Deron Lichte now calls two places home – Crystal Lake and Reba McEntire’s former Tennessee mansion.
Lichte, the CEO and owner of Food Warming Equipment Co., a former Crystal Lake business that relocated its headquarters to Portland, Tennessee, in 2013, recently bought the Lebanon, Tennessee, home with plans to turn it into a luxury event venue.
The home and 83-acre estate were listed in August of 2016 for $7.9 million when put on the market by actress and Country Music Hall of fame artist McEntire after her split from ex-huband, TV producer Narvel Blackstock.
When a developer bought the full acreage and divided it up, Lichte ended up buying slightly more than 13 acres, including the mansion. He still owns a home in Crystal Lake, with his two children attending high school here.
“At first sight, I fell in love,” Lichte said of McEntire’s former 12,816-foot Southern colonial mansion. “It was far more than just a home, but also what a great, great opportunity for something more. It’s such a gorgeous piece of property I felt guilty holding it for myself.”
Along with the mansion, Lichte intends to use a pool and poolhouse, a tennis court, a guest house, a detached eight-car garage and an equestrian facility – all of which he has renamed The Estate at Cherokee Dock (www.cherokeedock.com) – as an event venue.
Although Lichte’s purchase was slightly more than 13 acres, an additional 4-plus acres of Army Corps of Engineer land borders his property, accounting for a total of 18 acres. The Army Corps land technically can’t be bought or sold, but because it borders the property, it is included in the total for Lichte’s Estate at Cherokee Dock.
He describes the land as the ideal backdrop for entertaining, both indoors and out.
Including a lakeside dock and movie theater, the venue will be opened up for weddings, galas, charity fundraisers, family reunions, corporate and songwriter retreats and other related events.
The home has on-site accommodations for up to 15 people.
Along with hosting events, Lichte lives in the 23-room home, with a street address of 175 Cherokee Dock Road, while in Tennessee. Of the home’s seven bedrooms, he said he had no trouble deciding upon a place to rest his head.
“The main master is absolutely stunning,” he said. “There was a clear choice of which room to stay in.”
Recently attending the Country Music Association Awards in Nashville, Lichte said it was surreal to put on a black tie where McEntire used to live and then to actually see her at the awards.
Yes, he’s a fan of country music and McEntire, recalling the days when he’d listen to “Fancy,” her Top 10 country hit in 1991. Along with her country music career, McEntire is known for the television sitcom, “Reba,” which had a six-year run on The WB, ending in 2007. She also has appeared in several films, including 1990’s “Tremors,” and performed on Broadway.
Lichte has yet to personally meet McEntire, but has spoken with her personal assistants, he said. He said he intends to “maintain the phenomenal history and legacy” of the home.
“Although it’s a very large house, it just feel so intimate,” he said.
“I walked in [to McEntire’s former home] and, as grand as it is, it immediately felt like home,” he said. “You don’t feel like you’re in anything other than a house. … It’s such a magical place.”
By Jami Kunzer