Heritage Foundation Honors 23 Properties at 2014 Annual Meeting

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[pictured: Dan Brown, Andy Marshall, Jan Marshall, Mary Pearce, Cheryl Thompson, Cyril Stewart and Mel Thompson at last night’s banquet]

The Heritage Foundation commemorated nearly half a century of preservation work at its 47th Annual Meeting and Preservation Awards May 20, 2014, at the Franklin Theatre. Go here to see photos from the evening.

Each May, the non-profit organization uses the evening to recap the past year’s accomplishments and celebrate outstanding historic preservation projects.

Taking home the top honors this year were GRAY’S on Main and the Harris-McEwen Home, downtown Franklin properties that nabbed the Overall Winner awards for commercial and residential rehabilitation, respectively.

The commercial category winner has a long history on Main Street: Set in a ca. 1876 Victorian building, the Gray Drug Co. was a landmark pharmacy in downtown Franklin for nearly a century. Vacant for the better part of the past decade, the Gray’s building was nearly a victim of demolition by neglect before Andy Marshall—owner of the Puckett’s family of restaurants and GRAY’S on Main co-owner—purchased the building in 2012.

GRAY’S co-owner Michael Cole then oversaw the long construction process, maintaining or reusing many of the original details to herald the soul of the building. The three-story original layout of the building remains largely unaltered, and the GRAY’S team focused on ensuring that the restoration best utilized existing spaces. Tin ceilings, historic wall textures and finishes and structural timbers were all preserved to celebrate the building’s character.

Mel and Cheryl Thompson, owners of the overall residential award winner Harris-McEwen home, spent three years renovating the bones of the ca. 1830 building and restoring it to its original splendor, when it was stomping grounds to Mayor John McEwen of Franklin during the Civil War.

The couple took pains to bring the home back to the historic structure, removing additions that had been added after 1867 and restoring rooms to original sizes and functions. The Thompsons also duplicated the original trim, molding and flooring.

The Harris-McEwen Home is one of the highlights of the Foundation’s 39th Annual Town & Country Tour of Homes, taking place June 7-8.

“The two winners are wonderful examples of historic rehabilitation, with regards to both commercial and residential renovations,” said Mary Pearce, executive director of the Heritage Foundation. “The property owners have saved jewels of this community, and their visions have helped the Foundation protect and preserve another small piece of our heritage. This is historic preservation done the right way.”

In addition to the two grand Preservation Award prizes, the Heritage Foundation recognized 21 separate projects that demonstrate the value of preservation, including rehabilitations of residential and commercial structures, and new construction projects that complement the historic character of Williamson County.

The Town of Thompson’s Station was included in the honors for placing a conservation easement with the Land Trust of Tennessee on 1600 Thompson Station Road West. The Stutz/Douty property and Hatcher Farm also received Conservation Land Easements from the Land Trust for Tennessee.

The following additional properties received recognition in the 2014 ceremony:

  • The Gooch House, owned by Ann Johnson (Award of Merit for outside of the historic overlay district, residential)
  • The Dozier Home, owned by Chris Rudd and Kirstin Hobday of Thrive Homes (Award of Merit for historic overlay district, residential)
  • The Historic Reynolds Bungalow, owned by Fred and Linda Reynolds (Award of Merit for outside of historic overlay district, residential)
  • Ravenswood, owned by the City of Brentwood (Award of Merit for outside of historic overlay district, commercial)
  • Bittersweet Primitives, owned by Debbie Miller (Award of Merit for historic overlay district, commercial)
  • 113 Second Avenue North, owned by St. Philip Catholic Church (Award of Merit for historic overlay district, commercial)
  • Annex/Old Garage at 109 Jennings Street, owned by David W. Garrett (Award of Merit for outside of the historic overlay district, commercial)
  • Savory Spice Shop, owned by David and Hollie Rollins (Award of Merit for historic overlay district, commercial)
  • 125 Third Avenue North, owned by Travis Anderson (Award of Merit for historic overlay district, commercial)
  • Harlinsdale Barn, owned by the City of Franklin (Award of Merit for outside of historic overlay district, commercial)
  • Jamison Station/Cottages on Old Liberty, owned by Carbine & Associates (Award of Merit for historic overlay district, residential)
  • The Pitts Residence, owned by Dan and Paige Pitts (Award of Merit for outside of historic overlay district, residential)
  • The River Rose, owned by Mark and April Cantrell (Award of Merit for outside of historic overlay district, residential)
  • The Christensen Residence, owned by Matt and Kara Christensen (Award of Merit for outside of historic overlay district, residential)
  • The Hannah Residence, owned by Alex Gregg (Award of Merit for historic overlay district, residential)
  • 1254 Adams Street, owned by Chris and Melanie Barnes (Award of Merit for historic overlay district, residential)
  • Monica Bright’s New Home, owned by the Hard Bargain Association (Award of Merit and Non-Profit Special Award for historic overlay district, residential)
  • The Nolensville School, owned by Nolensville Historical Society (Award of Merit for outside of the historic overlay district, commercial)

For the second year in a row, Dan Brown, a certified local government coordinator with the Tennessee Historical Commission, judged the 2014 competition. To learn more about the annual meeting and its highlights, go to www.historicfranklin.com.

Since 1968, the not-for-profit Heritage Foundation’s mission has been to protect and preserve the architectural, geographic and cultural heritage of Franklin and Williamson County, and to promote the ongoing economic revitalization of downtown Franklin in the context of historic preservation.

 


Preservation & People Report: Mel & Cheryl Thompson

harris-mcewen-houseThe ca. 1830 Harris-McEwen House was home to Franklin’s Civil War-era Mayor John McEwen, who helplessly surrendered the town to the Union Army in 1862. The first part of the home was built in 1830 by Kerry Harris—a one story home facing Fifth Avenue. In 1849-1850 John McEwen purchased the home and added a large addition. Here’s the story of how one local couple took the home back to its original structure…

It was during the Heritage Foundation’s 2009 Town & Country Tour of Homes that Mel Thompson overheard someone say that the historic McEwen home had been confiscated by the bank, and was for sale.

Now, just five years later, Mel and Cheryl Thompson own that same home–the one named the 2014 Overall Winner (Residential) in the Foundation’s annual Preservation Awards banquet on May, 2014.

The Harris-McEwen House, which serves as a monument to preservation in the context of residential restoration, is also one of the highlights of the 39th Annual Town & Country Tour of Homes, June 7-8.

“My wife and I had always admired the home, so as soon as I heard there was a possibility it was for sale I looked into it right away!” Thompson said. “I did some research, got in contact with the bank and a week later we bought the house.”

The couple immediately began renovating the bones of the structure, restoring it to its former glory. The process was a labor of love: it took over three years to complete, with the Thompsons taking it back to its original structure.

Mel says the home’s heritage became a hobby for the couple, as he began researching the historical architecture. He became fascinated with the process, and was adamant about terminating the additions that had been added to the house after 1867, and restoring rooms to their originals sizes and functions. He also paid close attention to detail in order to maintain the beautiful slate roof, as well as duplicate the original trim, molding and flooring of the building.

Dan Brown, a certified local government coordinator with the Tennessee Historical Commission who judged the 2014 Preservation Awards, gushed about the Thompsons work on the home

“This is a truly outstanding project,” he said at the awards ceremony. “On par with preservation work seen in Charleston and New Orleans. It’s exceptional.”

But paying homage to the past doesn’t stop at the door: the home also nods to its lineage through its exquisite interior décor. The Thompsons say nearly 90 percent of its furnishings are antiques, ranging from the 1780’s up to the early 1900’s.

Mel notes the light fixtures, which originated in the late 1800’s, to the design of the drapes in the living room and the upholstered fabric covering the furniture—all have a back-story. Even the rugs date back to the 1800’s.

When asked about one of his favorite features, Mel references the ceiling. During an 1867 renovation, an Italian artist was commissioned to paint it with medallions—a feature which today remain in tact, and will be a highlight for those guests on the Tour of Homes.

As for their participation in the annual fundraiser, Mel says he’s looking forward to being a stop on the circuit.

“We are excited to be able to share a part of Franklin’s past with the community,” he said.

To read about Mel Thompson and his Towne Creek Realty business in our “Faces of Franklin” series here.


Early 1900s House on Carter’s Hill Park Saved: But Why?

Blue House -2The Heritage Foundation is going the extra mile to preserve another historic home–and we mean this quite literally.

You may have seen it in the news: the Foundation has partnered with like-minded organizations in the community to save the “Blue House,” often called the “Cotton Gin House” as part of a major battlefield reclamation project. This historic home, which was moved to the Cleburne Street site in the 1920s, is being slowly transported in two sections more than 40 miles from downtown Franklin to Giles County, where new homeowners Sharon and John McNeely will renovate it. The land for the seven-acre Carter’s Hill Park will be completely cleared by November 30, the 150th anniversary of the battle.

The simple post-Civil War house, which sits on the site of the Carter Cotton Gin that played such a pivotal role in the Battle of Franklin, includes all of the original trim, fireplaces, beaded board paneling and an incredible central staircase, along with several original windows and doors–but that’s just one reason why it should be preserved.

To help you better understand its historical significance, and why we have put so much effort into preserving the structure, we put together a little timeline (which we gleaned from Historian Rick Warwick) here:

  • The Blue House is a veteran of moves and movers.It’s ownership dates back to a Mrs. Sykes, who owned the home during the Civil War when it stood on the corner of Columbia Avenue and Fowlkes Street.
  • After the war, it was sold to Samuel Mosley, who added on to the front of the house, nearly doubling its size.
  • The city of Franklin bought the house and the property from Mr. Mosley to build Franklin High School in its place, which later burned down in 1956. Mrs. Robbie Hunter bought the house from the city and had it moved to 109 Cleburne Street before the city had a chance to tear it down.
  • The lot at 109 Cleburne Street also has a unique history.Long before the Blue House stood there, the lot housed the Carter Cotton Gin. During the Civil War’s Battle of Franklin, soldiers wrote about seeing the cotton gin in the midst of the fighting, noting it was a sort of epicenter for the battle.
  • The city later built the original Battle Ground Academy High School on the lot where the cotton gin once stood. The school burned down in 1902, and the lot sat empty until the arrival of the Blue House in either 1925 or 1926.
  • Now the Blue House is in the midst of another move, this time to Giles County. With the front part of the Blue House gone, Mr. Mosley’s addition is noticeable by the presence of Civil War era, handmade nails holding the walls together. The front of the house contains newer nails.
  • The third move was prompted by plans to build a park on the site where the Battle of Franklin broke out on November 30, 1864. The park will be called Carter’s Hill Park after the Carter family who owned the property at the time.

Follow along with the Heritage Foundation on its Facebook page to see updates of the park’s development, and of the “Blue House.”


Heritage Foundation’s Annual Meeting to Celebrate 47 Years of Success, Outstanding Historic Projects

The Heritage Foundation of Franklin & Williamson County will commemorate nearly a decade of preservation work at their 47th Annual Meeting and Preservation Awards Tuesday, May 20 at the Franklin Theatre. 

Each May, the non-profit organization uses the evening to recap the past year’s accomplishments and celebrate outstanding historic preservation projects. The public is invited to the meeting at the historic venue, which will kick off with a reception at 5:30 p.m with the awards presentation following soon after at 6 p.m.

The annual event, which falls during National Historic Preservation Month, will recognize winners in seven available award categories—property owners whose visions have helped the Foundation protect and preserve historic structures. They include both residential and commercial rehabilitations, as well as new construction projects that complement the historic character of the community.

Among the 2013 honorees were Franklin Mayor Ken Moore and his wife, Linda. The Roberts-Moore House on Third Avenue South was selected as the Overall Winner for the residential rehabilitation of the 19th century structure. Judge Dan Brown, who is also this year’s critic, called the home “a textbook example of historic rehabilitation” and “a shining example of how to do historic preservation the right way.”

2014 awards will be given in the following categories:

  • Residential rehabilitation under 2,500 square feet
  • Residential rehabilitation over 2,500 square feet
  • Commercial rehabilitation under 2,500 square feet
  • Commercial rehabilitation over 2,500 square feet
  • New residential construction
  • New commercial/institutional construction
  • Land conservation

Properties were nominated by outside parties, or submitted by owners.

The Heritage Foundation of Franklin & Williamson County is a non-profit 501(c)3 organization whose mission is to protect and preserve the architectural, geographic and cultural heritage of Franklin and Williamson County and to promote the ongoing economic revitalization of downtown Franklin in the context of historic preservation.