Downtown Franklin to Be Transformed for 31st Annual Dickens of a Christmas Celebration

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Step back in time with the Heritage Foundation of Franklin & Williamson County when Dickens of a Christmas returns to Franklin’s Main Street December 12-13, 2015.

Sponsored this year by Nissan, the 31st annual free street festival will recreate the time of Charles Dickens using historic downtown Franklin’s Victorian architecture as the backdrop.  Some 200 musicians, dancers and characters will fill the streets, including several from Charles Dickens’s stories.  Expect to see and interact with the nefarious Fagin from Oliver Twist; Jacob Marley, Ebenezer Scrooge and Tiny Tim Cratchit with his parents from A Christmas Carol; and of course, a Victorian Father and Mother Christmas with treats for children.

“Dickens of a Christmas is the perfect event for our historic Main Street,” said Mary Pearce, executive director of the Heritage Foundation of Franklin and Williamson County.  “Downtown Franklin always exudes its own special magic, and yet this event adds an extra bit of sparkle.  It dovetails perfectly with our preserved Victorian architecture and our commitment to saving and showcasing our historical treasures. As more attention is turned toward downtown Franklin in both the local and national press, we encourage festival goers to dress in Victorian costume and to add to the ambiance as they stroll the streets.  Adding even a hat and scarf to modern attire helps set the scene and get everyone in the holiday mood.”

This year’s event will reprise a crowd favorite from last year: it WILL snow at Dickens of a Christmas!  Come decked out in holiday style to capture that perfect family picture.

New this year will be the Lucky Scruff Wintery Whisker Revue, a competition among hirsute gentlemen for the finest facial hair.  Those taking advantage of No Shave November will want to hang on to their whiskers until the Sunday afternoon competition on the stage at the Public Square. Winners will take home fabulous prizes courtesy of Lucky Scruff, a new store at The Factory specializing in accessories for the bearded gentleman, and all entrants will receive gift cards. The judging will take place at 3pm. To enter this contest, visit the Dickens event page at

Favorite Victorian-era activities will return, including sugar plums and roasted chestnuts being sold on the street. Other food vendors will offer heartier old English fare.  A variety of musical and dance performances will take place both on the street and on the stage at City Hall.  Horse-drawn carriage rides, a petting zoo for children, live artisan demonstrations, and more than 70 vendors offering holiday arts and crafts will line Main Street from Second to Fifth Avenues.  Each day will conclude with a town sing of classic Christmas carols.  Saturday’s town sing will take place in front of the stage on the Public Square; Sunday’s town sing will be conducted inside the Historic Presbyterian Church at Five Points.

Dickens of a Christmas will run from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday, December 12, and from 1 1 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Sunday, December 13.  The event is free and open to the public; some attractions will involve a small fee.  More information and a schedule of events will be available at

Producing Dickens of a Christmas is just one of the many activities of The Heritage Foundation of Franklin & Williamson County.  Since 1967 the non-profit group has been dedicated to protecting and preserving Williamson County’s historic, architectural and geographic resources; in short, saving the places that matter.

32nd Annual Pumpkinfest Features Old Favorites, Traditions

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Franklin’s favorite fall celebration is returning to Main Street Saturday, Oct. 24, with an all-day celebration that brings free and festive fun for a variety of ages and groups.

The 32nd Annual Pumpkinfest, held in the community’s historic core, attracts tens of thousands of visitors to downtown Franklin each year. Presented by Hyundai of Cool Springs and coordinated by the Heritage Foundation, the festivities will stretch along Main Street and its connecting avenues from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Saturday.

“Thanks to Hyundai of Cool Springs and our other generous sponsors, we’re able to bring back old favorites and offer some new, exciting attractions too,” said Rene Evans, Pumpkinfest manager. “Our festival partnership with Hyundai aligned perfectly–both Pumpkinfest and the dealership have a mission to be family friendly, and serve the community’s best interests.”

In addition to the dozens of artisan vendors and two stages of live entertainment, attendees can expect to enjoy some of the festival’s favorite traditions for the 2015 event – including a costume contest sponsored by HomeTown Pet, the Church of the City’s Kids’ Zone and the Franklin Tomorrow Chili Cook Off. Plus, The Great Pumpkin will again be making an appearance after a long journey from Carleton Place, Canada (Franklin’s Sister City).

Other activities and details in this year’s Pumpkinfest schedule include:

· Third Avenue South will be transformed with bouncy houses, pony rides, face painting, games, a dedicated preschool area and much more for the Church of the City Kids’ Zone from 10 a.m. – 3 p.m.

· Two stages will feature full lineups of music and dance performances. In addition to the stage on the Public Square, a second stage will be located on Main Street at First Avenue, near Landmark Booksellers. The highlight of the afternoon is anticipated to be The ConSoulers, who will take the First Avenue stage at 4 p.m. for a two-hour street dance.

· Costume contests, sponsored by HomeTown Pet, will be held on the stage at the Public Square for both humans and pets.

· Nashville-based circus group Beyond Wings will perform Halloween-themed aerial arts on the corner of Second Avenue and Main.

· More than 80 independent artisan booths with handmade wares will line Main Street from Second to Fifth Avenue.

· Festival fare like corn dogs, funnel cakes, fried catfish and chicken tenders will join fresh offerings in two dedicated food zones: around the Public Square and on Fourth Avenue South.

· A beer tent will be located near the stage on First Avenue.

· The Franklin Tomorrow Chili Cook Off will take place on Third Avenue North. For more information, go to

· After dark, Franklin’s historic cemeteries will come to life with first-person stories of some of the folks buried there. For more information, go to

In addition to parking in and around the downtown area, a parking and shuttle service for Pumpkinfest attendees will be available from Church of the City and Harlinsdale Farm for $1 per person each way.

In addition to Pumpkinfest, the Heritage Foundation–in conjunction with the Downtown Franklin Association–produces seven event series and festivals each year to attract visitors to downtown Franklin, and to promote the benefits of historic preservation.

Since 1967 the non-profit group has been dedicated to protecting and preserving Williamson County’s historic, architectural and geographic resources; in short, saving the places that matter. For more information, call (615) 591-8500.


Heritage Ball Casts Old Hollywood, Vintage Vision for 42nd Annual Gala

Now in its 42nd year, the Heritage Ball–the Heritage Foundation of Franklin & Williams County’s premiere annual fundraiser–is Williamson County’s longest-running black tie benefit and the social event of the season.

This year’s Ball will be held on Saturday, Sept. 19, 2015 and will cast special spotlight on the ca. 1941 Old, Old Jail, the Foundation’s first permanent headquarters and the community’s future Big House for Historic Preservation.

Ball attendees can anticipate an unexpected look to the Heritage Ball, held each year at the Eastern Flank Battlefield Park in Franklin.

Inspiration for the gala, Design Chair Matt Logan says, originated from the classic 1951 film American in Paris and the classic 1924 George Gershwin song “Rhapsody in Blue,” – cultural bookends to the era of the Old, Old Jail, the beneficiary of 2015 Ball proceeds.

“What I love about historic preservation is that truly everything that is old, is new again,” Logan said. “We wanted to celebrate things past with a contemporary, creative approach.”

Logan, who is the artistic director of the celebrated theatre and production company Studio Tenn, says cool tones will accentuate the setting, with elements of gold throughout to warm the environment. Dark blue tablecloths will be highlighted by art deco-inspired china and set off by brass cutlery.

Blue light cast on the top of the tent, complemented by hung Edison and cafe bulbs, will play off the evening sky to add a whimsical element to the ambiance.

“We took ideas from Van Gogh’s ‘Starry Night’ painting, and the magic of that. You’ll see that the design has a bit of period to it, but with overlying modern touches,” Logan said. “It will be very current.”

Predominantly white flower arrangements–overseen by Steve McLellan of Garden Delights–that include orchids, calla lilies, and roses will form sculptural designs, offering dramatic pockets throughout the Ball.

“Matt, Steve and Cathi [Aycock, Ball Chair] have dreamed up this rich design scheme that feels very Old Hollywood,” said Lynne McAlister, Heritage Ball coordinator. “I can promise that the 42nd Annual Heritage Ball will truly be unlike any other year.”

All proceeds from the Heritage Ball support the non-profit Heritage Foundation’s mission 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.

To learn more about the 42nd Annual Heritage Ball, go here. To purchase a ticket, please contact Lynne McAlister at 615-591-8500.

Heritage Ball

Foundation Offers Public An Early Chance To Win 2015 Ball Auction Items, Impressive Spread

Generations of Williamson County residents have made a tradition of supporting the Heritage Ball, the black-tie event to be held September 19th that benefits the Heritage Foundation. This year the nonprofit’s patrons will have several once-in-a-lifetime opportunities, thanks to its 2015 silent auction offerings.

For the first time ever, the Foundation is opening online bids two weeks in advance: on Friday, Sept. 4, the public can take part in an impressive selection of items that range from estate jewels and custom clothing to extravagant getaways.

“We are both thrilled and thankful for our sponsors and volunteers who helped create one of the best silent auction spreads I have ever seen,” said Lynne McAlister, Heritage Ball coordinator. “These items range in value: you can visit a favorite restaurant or merchant, enjoy a weekend excursion, purchase a beautiful piece of art for yourself or as a gift…. there’s something for everyone this year.

“Plus each donation will play a helpful role in helping our organization not only preserve historical landmarks that may otherwise be destroyed, but also creating the Big House for Historic Preservation.”

Highlighted items include two commissioned paintings by world-renowned figurative artist Maestro Igor Babailov, who is currently completing the official portrait of Pope Francis; a luxurious Audi experience with a two-night stay in Sonoma, Calif.; two-day passes to the upcoming Pilgrimage Festival; a selection of breathtaking jewels from local jewelers; a six-night vacation in Mexico; gift cards from local merchants and restaurants; and more more.

Individuals can register to bid through the Foundation’s website here.

Last year, the silent auction proceeds raked in nearly $60,000 for the Foundation’s mission to protect and preserve the architectural, geographic and cultural heritage of Williamson County.

This year’s monies will specifically benefit the renovation of the ca. 1941 Old, Old Jail–also known as the future Big House for Historic Preservation, a public resource for historic preservation and the first permanent home for the Heritage Foundation.

The 42nd Annual Heritage Ball will be held September 19th at the Eastern Flank Battlefield Park. Tickets are $375 per person, and tables are available. To learn more or reserve a ticket, go here or email Lynne McAlister at

Cathi and Coleman Aycock Cast Vision for Heritage Ball, September 19th

Cathi and Coleman Aycock

Much about the Heritage Ball has changed over the last four decades, but the mission of the seasoned tradition remains the same. Members of the Heritage Foundation of Franklin & Williamson County are every bit as focused on the importance of historic preservation here as they were in 1972.

This year, Coleman and Cathi Aycock of Franklin have been chosen to cast their vision and lead planning for Williamson County’s longest-running black tie event, to be held Saturday, Sept. 19th, 2015.

“We are honored to continue the Ball legacy that the ones who came before us brought to life,” Cathi Aycock said. “Living in Franklin for the past 26 years has given our family a greater appreciation for what this event represents. Franklin is a place that values, protects and preserves our cultural resources — but if it weren’t for the Heritage Foundation’s work, our community would not be the same shining jewel it is today.”

Coleman Aycock has been a commercial real estate broker for 30 years, currently specializing in Williamson County property with Urban Grout Commercial Real Estate. He has served as past president of SIOR for Middle and East Tennessee. Coleman is a past board member of the Brentwood Chamber of Commerce, former chairman of the advisory council for The Salvation Army, served on the board of the Williamson County Transportation Association and was a past ambassador on the Diversity Council.

Born and raised in Middle Tennessee, Cathi Aycock was a stay-at-home mom for several years before returning to the workplace to create a popular lifestyle brand as part of her role as the style columnist at The Tennessean.

Now, she acts as the director of marketing and communications at Homestead Manor in Thompson’s Station — A. Marshall Family Foods Inc.’s latest multi-layer hospitality concept that includes Harvest, a rustic Tuscany-inspired restaurant and bar slated to open in June. In addition, the Homestead property will house an on-site organic farm and orchard, a rustic event barn, a farmer’s market and more.

In recent years, Cathi has worked with organizations such as Mercy Community Healthcare, Friends of Vanderbilt Children’s Hospital, Second Harvest Food Bank and Habitat for Humanity, and has volunteered in support of various events for the Heritage Foundation.

Together, the Aycocks have two children, Cole (21) and Claire (19), both of whom attend the University of Tennessee at Knoxville.

“When we moved to Williamson County on our first wedding anniversary, we planned on staying a year or so, then moving on back to Nashville,” Cathi said. “But we fell in love with the people and the sense of place here. Fast forward over two decades, and we now hope to celebrate every wedding anniversary, through our 50th and beyond, in this amazing community.”

Though she brings many years of experience in marketing and event production to the table, Cathi says she really hopes to draw on her own first experience at the Heritage Ball for inspiration on the event she’s now chairing, two decades later.

“Coleman and I attended as young newlyweds, me in a borrowed gown. I fell in love with the glamour of the event and the people who were so passionate about the Foundation’s vision,” she said. “I hope to recreate that magical feeling within guests at the 42nd Annual Heritage Ball, with newly conceived ideas and modern touches.”

The 42nd Annual Heritage Ball will be held September 19th at the Eastern Flank Battlefield Park. To pre-purchase tickets or learn more, email Lynne McAlister at

40th Annual Heritage Tour: Experience History Behind the Door (June 6-7)


Each summer, members and supporters of the Heritage Foundation open their homes and businesses as part of the Heritage Tour, showcasing the community’s dedication to protecting those resources as part of our legacy.

Now in its 40th year, the Tour will invite the public inside historic residences, commercial structures and notable examples of sensitive infill within historic districts on Saturday and Sunday, June 6th and 7th, 2015. The event acts as a fundraiser for our non-profit preservation organization, and underscores the importance of protecting the architectural and cultural heritage of Williamson County. BUY YOUR TICKET HERE!

J. Edward and Brenda Campbell, a husband-wife team of real estate brokers in Franklin, have been named as chairs for the 2015 event. They say the benefit’s theme this year is “Experience History Beyond the Door,” and will expand past personal homes into historic sites that also have rich stories to tell.

“All of these buildings are within historic environments, and hold special significance to the Foundation and its efforts,” said J. Edward. “By purchasing a ticket, participants are given a first-hand look at why the organization works so tirelessly to preserve our cultural inheritance. This tour acts as an educational vehicle for both the public and the Foundation.”

This year’s event features 10 properties, including six personal homes. Tour destinations–several of which are located in Historic Downtown Franklin, within walking distance of each other–include:

  • The Masonic Lodge-Hiram Lodge #7, circa 1823-1826, was the barracks for the Union soldiers during wartime occupation.

  • FirstBank at Five Points (ca. 1924) is a stunning example of an early commercial building that has served for decades as downtown Franklin’s post office, and recently underwent a complete renovation.

  • The Historic Franklin Presbyterian Church is a Romanesque Revival structure built in 1888 that stands as the third house of worship to be established in downtown Franklin.

  • The Hicks-Friesinger House on 5th Avenue South is a ca. 1878 home renovated in 2015.

  • The Turley-Marshall House on West Main Street is a ca. 1880 home that once resembled Italianate style and now stands as an English Tudor.

  • The Smith-Hardcastle House (ca. 1893) on Fair Street is a beautifully restored two-storey Victorian home.

  • The Ross House on Lewisburg Avenue was built in 2010 in a way that seamlessly blends old with new, and offers a breath of fresh Cape Cod air in Franklin.

  • The Breezeway at The John Herbert House (ca. 1830) on Clovercroft Road is the oldest double-pen dogtrot log house in Williamson County.

  • The Ogilvie Place-Beech Hill Farm, built in 1796 in College Grove, showcases an original log cabin with additions in an early-American style that has been “home” to six generations of Ogilvies.

  • The historic Rest Haven Cemetery on Fourth Avenue North will feature a costumed re-enactor portraying John McEwen, the Civil War-era mayor of Franklin.

The 40th Annual Heritage Tour is presented by Synergy Realty Network and Homeland Title. Tickets are $30 in advance and $35 at the door, and are good for the weekend of June 6th and 7th. Tour hours are generally 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., with special hours for Rest Haven Cemetery and Historic First Presbyterian Church.

To learn more about the Tour or to purchase tickets, please go here.

Producing the Tour is just one of the many activities of The Heritage Foundation of Franklin & Williamson County. Since 1967, the non-profit group has been dedicated to protecting and preserving Williamson County’s historic, architectural and geographic resources; in short, saving the places that matter.


2015 Annual Meeting and Preservation Awards

Each May, the Heritage Foundation hosts an annual meeting and preservation awards ceremony to recap the past year’s projects and celebrate outstanding historic preservation work in Williamson County.

The 48th Annual Preservation Awards ceremony will be held on May 19, 2015 at the Franklin Theatre, and will commemorate nearly half a century of preservation work. The reception will kick off at 5:30 with light bites and beverages, with a program following soon after.

The annual event, which falls during National Historic Preservation Month, will recognize 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.

Plus, new board members for both the Heritage Foundation of Franklin & Williamson County and the Downtown Franklin Association will be recognized. For more information on the event, call the Foundation office at 615-591-8500.


Campbells Asked to Lead 40th Annual Heritage Tour

J. Edward &  Brenda CampbellA Franklin couple known for their involvement in community and preservation efforts has been named chairs of the Heritage Foundation of Franklin & Williamson County’s 40th Annual Heritage Foundation Tour, to be held June 6th and 7th, 2015.

Edward and Brenda Campbell have been tapped to lead the event—a fundraiser for the non-profit that re-emphasizes the importance of protecting the architectural and cultural heritage of Williamson County.

Each summer, members and advocates of the preservation society open their personal properties, all of which encompass the community’s dedication to protecting those resources as part of our community’s legacy.

“I’m so appreciative that Franklin is a blend of people who not only look to the future to grow, but also to preserve its past,” said Brenda Campbell. “Neither of us has a problem with shouting out about how great it is, and we believe that the Heritage Foundation is a big reason why it is such a vibrant and well-preserved community.”

The Campbells have been a husband-wife team of real estate brokers in Franklin since 2004, helping clients buy and sell residential properties all over Middle Tennessee. Today they work with Synergy Realty Network and are familiar faces to many through their community involvement.

Together, the pair has served as house chairs for the Tour, volunteered at various street festivals produced by the Foundation, and as Franklin Theatre ushers. They have also been vocal proponents and active volunteers for the Franklin Art Scene since its launch. They are active members of the First Presbyterian Church in Franklin.

Separately, the duo’s contributions are likewise manifold: J. Edward has served on the board of the Williamson County Association of Realtors (WCAR) and currently serves as Vice Chairman of the Housing Commission for the City of Franklin, the board of Franklin Tomorrow, the Advisory Board of the Pastoral Counselling Center of Williamson County and the Advisory Board of the Franklin Housing Authority and is a graduate of the 2013-14 class of Leadership Franklin.

Brenda, who served as a past president of both the WCAR and the Women’s Council of Realtors in Williamson County, is a graduate of the Franklin Citizen’s Government Academy and the Franklin Citizen’s Police Academy.

Since the two married a decade ago, the Campbells have committed to using their time to a wide-ranging set of local volunteer efforts.

Edward said it’s that team mentality that drives them to lend their support to different projects, and that the pair will use their professional experience to tie the architectural and historical elements together for Tour guests.

“Community involvement was always on our bucket lists, an area we wanted to be more active in,” he said. “This opportunity allows us to combine our passion for preservation and love of homes together for a greater cause.”

Now in its 40th year, the Tour invites the public inside historic homes, buildings and notable examples of sensitive infill within historic districts. Event organizer Kristy Williams says the benefit’s theme this year is Experience History Beyond the Door.

Tickets are $30 in advance and $35 at the door, and are good for the weekend of June 6th and 7th. To learn more about the Tour or to purchase tickets, please go here.

Producing the Tour is just one of the many activities of The Heritage Foundation of Franklin & Williamson County. Since 1967, the non-profit group has been dedicated to protecting and preserving Williamson County’s historic, architectural and geographic resources; in short, saving the places that matter.

2015 Main Street Festival Returns in Full Force!

The Heritage Foundation is pleased to announce Xfinity as the title sponsor of Main Street Festival 2015. Scheduled for April 25-26, the Xfinity Main Street Festival is downtown Franklin’s premier celebration of spring, closing Main Street to traffic from First to Fifth Avenues for a full weekend of arts and crafts, music and dance, children’s activities, food and fun. Xfinity Main Street Festival will run from 10 a.m. – 10 p.m. on Saturday, April 25, and from 11 a.m. – 6 p.m. on Sunday, April 26.  Admission is free.

“We are thrilled to welcome Xfinity as the title sponsor of this year’s event,” said Mary Pearce, executive director of the Heritage Foundation of Franklin & Williamson Co.  “This is a relationship that has been developing for a while, and we are so happy that it has culminated in this title sponsorship. Franklin’s reputation as a destination to shop, eat and play is a natural fit with Xfinity’s entertainment brand.  With their support we are able to offer an even better lineup of entertainment for the whole family at the Xfinity Main Street Festival.”

“We are proud to be the title sponsor for the 32nd annual Main Street Festival in Franklin,” said Sara Jo Walker, Director of Public Relations for Comcast. “Comcast has been dedicated to investing in technology infrastructure in Franklin and Williamson County for many years, but this sponsorship underscores our ongoing commitment to the community as well.”

The centerpiece of Xfinity Main Street Festival is a juried arts and crafts show featuring some 200 vendors with original and hand crafted wares. Original paintings, pottery, jewelry, furniture, woodworking, ornamental iron, stained glass, photography, home and garden accents, leatherwork, and much more will be showcased on Main Street from First to Fifth Avenues. Arts and crafts will be on display from 10 a.m. – 7 p.m. on Saturday, and again from 11 a.m. – 6 p.m. on Sunday

Free entertainment will be offered continuously on two stages. The Xfinity Stage on the Public Square will feature local bands playing a variety of genres: Indie, Country, Rock, Bluegrass, Gospel and more. Eric Heatherly and his “Goats of Kudzu” will headline a Saturday night street dance on the Public Square from 8:30 – 10 p.m. The Heritage Stage located on Fourth Avenue North will feature a variety of local dance groups, including the Ann Carroll School of Dance, Tommy Jackson’s Rocky Top Revue and the Nashville Ballet.

A beer tent on Fourth Avenue South will feature pub-style entertainment such as karaoke and corn hole. A kids’ zone on Third Avenue South will offer a variety of inflatables, train and pony rides, a petting zoo, bungee jump and other activities for a small fee.

Returning this year is the very popular carnival component, located this year on Second Ave. N., on the Harpeth Square development site. Carnival activities kick off at 5 p.m. on Thursday.

Off-site parking and shuttle bus service will be available at The People’s Church on Hwy. 96 and Harlinsdale Farm on Franklin Road on both Saturday and Sunday. On Sunday, off-site parking will be available only at Harlinsdale Farm.  Shuttle service to downtown Franklin will be available for $1 per person per ride. Food, beverage, pets and non-folding strollers are not permitted on the trolleys.

For more information and a complete line up of entertainers, visit


Three Blind Vines pours wine, helps restore Old Old Jail

This article appeared in The Tennessean on March 17, 2015

Bring your own wine to this fundraiser — three bottles of it.

The third annual Three Blind Vines invites wine lovers to sip and vote for their favorite bottle of wine to fund the restoration of the Old Old Jail.

In this black and white event, attendees in teams of one to three will bring three bottles of the same wine. Two will be disguised, numbered and set out for tasting, while the third will remain unopened as part of the grand prize.

Guests also can taste food from local restaurants and hear live music from Art Four Sale and Electric Time Machine.

Proceeds from the event, presented by Next Generation Heritage Foundation of Franklin and Williamson County, will restore the vacant jail, built around 1941, to become The Big House for Historic Preservation.

The event kicks off at 6:30 p.m. March 27 at Liberty Hall at The Factory, 230 Franklin Road. Tickets are $45, $100 for VIP. Details: