Important Preservation Legislation: Act Today!

The Tennessee Preservation Trust has filed legislation that, if enacted, would make Tennessee the 36th state in the nation to have a historic preservation tax credit.
Thirty-five states – including all of the states contiguous to Tennessee – have enacted historic rehabilitation tax credits to encourage investment in the rehabilitation of historic buildings.

Because Tennessee does not have a historic rehabilitation tax credit, it is missing out on valuable, impactful, job-creating private capital investment that would preserve historic buildings throughout our state.

For the legislation to have a chance of success, lawmakers need to hear of your strong support today!

How You Can Make Your Preservation Voice Heard:

1. Today, please contact your state representative and state senator to urge them to become a cosponsor of this important legislation.

2. Please use this site to find your state representative and state senator:

3. Please call your state representative to urge him or her to become a cosponsor of House Bill 1474.

4. Please call your state senator to urge him or her to become a cosponsor of Senate Bill 1723.

5. Please tell your legislators that this legislation is needed to make Tennessee the 36th state in the nation to enact a historic rehabilitation tax credit and that it will create jobs, drive economic development, and revitalize main streets and downtowns throughout the state.

6. If you know your state legislator personally, when you see them, urge their strong support for this legislation.

Williamson Source Tours McLemore House

As the country honors Black History Month, Tom Murdic of the African American Heritage Society of Williamson County got together with Williamson Source‘s Nick Paranjape to talk about the “Black Tie Affair” benefit this Friday, Feb. 7.

Plus, the pair discusses the historic McLemore House off 11th Avenue North in downtown Franklin–a destination full of historic treasures and artifacts. For a tour of the McLemore House,  click HERE.

47th Annual Meeting To Celebrate Outstanding Historic Projects

Mayor Ken and Linda Moore
Mayor Ken and Linda Moore

The Heritage Foundation is now accepting nominations for its 47th Annual Preservation Awards, which serve to celebrate outstanding historic preservation projects. Download the 2014 application here.

The seven available award categories recognize the vision of those who help 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.

Winners are announced each May at the non-profit’s yearly member meeting, which falls during National Historic Preservation Month. The 47th Annual Preservation Awards ceremony will be held on May 20, 2014 at the Franklin Theatre.

“We can think of no better way to observe National Historic Preservation Month than by honoring what has been saved, and celebrating the preservationists who made it happen,” said Mary Pearce, executive director of the Heritage Foundation.

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 called the home “a textbook example of historic rehabilitation” and “a shining example of how to do historic preservation the right way.”

See all 2013 winners here.

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 may be nominated by outside parties, or submitted by owners. To receive an application, contact Heritage Foundation Events Manager Torrey Barnhill at 615-591-8500 ext. 20, or email her at

The form can also be downloaded here.  The application deadline is April 24, 2014.

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.



Old, Old Jail

Heritage Foundation to Restore Downtown Franklin’s Old, Old Jail

Do you want to help us restore the Old, Old Jail? Email us here or call Mary Pearce at 615-591-8500 ext. 15.

Rendering by Ben Johnson
“Old, Old Jail” rendering by Ben Johnson

What is the Old, Old Jail?

One of Williamson County’s historic properties, the ca. 1941 “Old, Old Jail,” building served Franklin and Williamson County for more than three decades. From the 1970s on, it was used at various times as a Highway Patrol outpost, an employment office, the County archives, and book storage for the school system. It fell into disrepair and has been vacant since 2008.

When Did The Foundation Come Into Play? 

The Heritage Foundation completed the purchase of the building on Bridge Street in downtown Franklin in 2013.

A unique opportunity was created when FirstBank approached the City to rehabilitate the former Post Office at Five Points, where the Heritage Foundation offices had been located for more than a decade. Everyone involved understood that this could be an opportunity to save another neglected iconic building in Franklin—the Old, Old Jail.

The Art Deco-style structure was originally the Williamson County Jail, but the City of Franklin acquired it in approximately 2005 as part of a land swap. The City sold the building to the Heritage Foundation for $25,000 which was donated by FirstBank. The Foundation expects to restore the building to serve as their headquarters, and as a public resource for those interested in historic preservation. Street Dixon Rick is serving as the architect, and Rock City Construction is the contractor.

What Will It Be Called? 

The building will be called the “Big House for Historic Preservation.”

Why Should You Care?

  • Though the Foundation has served the community for nearly five decades, this will be the non-profit’s first permanent home.
  • We will be saving and restoring a piece of Franklin’s history.
  • The vision for the project is to help spark the revitalization of the Bridge Street district. The Heritage Foundation’s track record with bringing historic treasures back to life – most recently with the Franklin Theatre – make it a win-win for Franklin.
  • The building will be a resource for the community, a place where anyone with a need for or an interest in historic preservation is welcome.

How Will The Space Be Used?

In addition to the Foundation’s headquarters, it will also feature a vast archive of old photographs collected by Historian Rick Warwick, who has helped countless people learn more about their family and property histories over the years.The Foundation helps home and building owners with everything from National Register of Historic Places nominations to Franklin’s Main Street program.

A meeting room will be available for non-profit and community use on the upper floor. Other resources for those involved in history, preservation and planning will be available to the public.

Where Can I Learn More?



Published: April 2013

Old Old Jail
Old Old Jail in 2013

The City of Franklin’s Board of Mayor and Aldermen have approved a contract for the Heritage Foundation of Franklin & Williamson County to purchase the building known as the “old, old jail” on Bridge Street, with a goal of restoring it to its ca. 1941 Art Deco appearance and using it as office space.

The contract is contingent upon the findings of a Phase II environmental study to be conducted within the next 60 days. The first phase revealed some potential ground contamination bordering the property—to be expected in an area that has housed auto repair and junkyard lots for decades—but nothing insurmountable, Foundation officials said.

“This building has been at the top of downtown Franklin’s most endangered list for years, and this is one of the key reasons why the Heritage Foundation exists: we restore old buildings that others might think would be better off torn down,” said Cyril Stewart, the Foundation’s Board President. “That was certainly the case with the Franklin Theatre, but with that project under our belt we feel that we are well positioned to take this on.”

Stewart, who is a licensed architect, says he believes the building is structurally sound, and that they expect to deal with some lead paint and limited asbestos abatement as part of the environmental remediation. The opportunity was too good to pass up, he says.

“With our current home at the Historic Five Points Post Office being restored by FirstBank soon, this is a chance to save two historic treasures while creating an office space that will serve the Heritage Foundation well into the future,” Stewart explained. “And with major development plans on the horizon for the Bridge Street corridor, we believe we can be a part of the revitalization of the entire north side of downtown Franklin.”

While the Foundation will purchase the property for $25,000, that number represents a small percentage of the restoration cost. The environmental impact study alone is expected to cost $15,000, before remediation. Heritage Foundation Executive Director Mary Pearce says she expects the total project cost to be around $1.5 million.

“It’s a daunting task that will take an entire community to pull off, but this is our mission… This is an integral part what we do,” Pearce said. “Together, we’ll find a way to get it done, and it will enhance the legacy of downtown Franklin for generations to come.”

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.

Tickets Are Now On Sale For The 7th Annual Three Blind Vines Supporting The Franklin Theatre

Three Blind VinesThe Next Generation Heritage Foundation of Franklin and Williamson County has announced that tickets are now on sale for their 7th annual Three Blind Vines fundraiser supporting The Franklin Theatre. Tickets may be purchased in advance on their website – – for $35. They will be $45 at the door.

The event takes place on Friday, February 21, 2014 from 6:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. in Liberty Hall at The Factory in Franklin. The group recently announced a “Classic Hollywood” theme, offering attendees all the glitz and glamour of a red carpet movie premiere. Admission includes live entertainment, food from your favorite local restaurants (including Presenting Sponsor GRAY’S on Main) and the wine, of course.

Back by popular demand, Evan Farmer will host the evening’s festivities, including the announcement everyone will be waiting for by night’s end – the red wine and white wine winners, both of whom will go home with a “winner’s vault” of wine.

“Next Gen” invites the community to interact with the 3BV social media team. Learn more on Facebook at On Twitter, find all event-related updates by following the hashtag – #3BV

The Next Generation Heritage Foundation consists of members aged 21-40 and is part of the Heritage Foundation of Franklin and Williamson County. The Heritage Foundation is a 46-year-old non-profit organization with a 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.


Historic Preservation Award Applications Available

Roberts-Moore home
Roberts-Moore home

Nominations are open for the Heritage Foundation’s 2014 Historic Preservation Awards.  Awards are 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

Individuals may nominate on behalf of someone else, and property owners are encouraged to nominate their own properties.

The application deadline is April 24. For a link to the application form, click here or call Torrey Barnhill at 615-591-8500 ext. 20.

To see last year’s winners, go here.

Mayor Ken & Linda Moore Nab Preservation’s Heavyweight Honor

Moores, Cyril StewartFranklin Mayor Ken Moore and his wife, Linda, agree:  It’s the dog’s fault.

When the Moores began thinking about a new home a couple of years ago they were looking for a yard for the German Shepherd they were planning to adopt.  Although they wanted to stay in the Historic Downtown Franklin district, they certainly weren’t looking for a major renovation project.

But that’s what they got, and in the process they also became the Heritage Foundation’s 2013 Historic Preservation Overall Award Winner for what the judge called “a textbook example of historic rehabilitation” and “a shining example of how to do historic preservation the right way.”

The home on Third Avenue S. was built in 1898 and has had half a dozen or so owners over the course of its life.  Several of them put on additions which impacted the historical integrity of the house.  But when the house came on the market Linda immediately saw their future home, despite the preservation challenges that awaited them.

“I was born in Franklin and grew up on these streets,” said Linda.  “I love the 15-block historic district and I wasn’t going to live anywhere but downtown.”

The mayor took some persuading.  “You have to understand, I was moving from a home where I didn’t have to do anything.  I knew there’d be challenges.  Surprises are always waiting behind the walls of old houses, and I told Linda I wasn’t ready to do a project this size.  But she convinced me.”

The Moores knew they faced two tasks: restoring the home as closely as possible to the original, and upgrading all the systems.  The seven-month project reconfigured the space that had been added on over the years to give the Moores a thoroughly modern kitchen, while returning the master bedroom to its original size.  Upgrading gave the home all new electrical, plumbing, and HVAC systems, and state-of-the-art energy efficiency by encapsulating the attic and the basement, which are now temperature and humidity controlled.

And the surprises?  Windows without headers.  A bowed wall in the kitchen that made hanging cabinets – shall we say? — challenging.  The chimney that didn’t connect to a fireplace.  Matching the original flooring after old tile was torn up.

But there were lovely surprises, too, like an original limestone step tucked under the porch, which the Moores were able to reuse, and discovering what they thought was concrete was really hand-carved limestone.  They also discovered that replacing the weights and ropes allowed the original windows to again be functional.

“My advice to anyone who tackles a historic preservation project is to bite the bullet and do it the right way,” says Mayor Moore.  “No shortcuts.  Bring it up to the best standards you can.  Old homes take constant care. Continue to care for it even after the renovation.  Be very dedicated to the resource you have been entrusted with.”

Winning the Heritage Foundation’s Preservation Award has affirmed the Moores’ decision to tackle a project of this size.  “We were honored to be asked to submit an application and even more honored to receive the award,” said Mayor Moore.  “It just reinforced why we went to all the effort we did.”

And as they continue to learn more about the history of the house and the people who called the location home before them, the Moores are grateful for the opportunity to restore the property.  “I look at the newel post on the banister and wonder how many people have placed their hand on it over the course of more than a hundred years,” said Mayor Moore.  “It truly is a privilege to restore an historic home.”





In With The Old: 2013 In Review

HF Office
Foundation’s temporary office

Historic preservationists may be the only people who happily trade “out with the old” for “in with the old,” and such was the case for the Heritage Foundation in 2013.

The year brought about the end of an era as the Heritage Foundation moved out of its longtime office space at Five Points and the dawn of a new when it purchased the Old, Old Jail on Bridge Street.

The wheels began to turn when the City of Franklin accepted FirstBank’s proposal to lease and renovate the Historic Post Office where the Heritage Foundation had held office space for more than a dozen years.  “We were thrilled that the post office building is getting a much-needed makeover,” said Mary Pearce, Heritage Foundation executive director, “but it meant that we needed to find a new home.  As we looked at the available properties that fit our space and location needs, one building kept coming up:  the Old, Old Jail.”

The Heritage Foundation purchased the building in August and has been busy planning the design and funding of its rehabilitation as “The Big House for Historic Preservation.”  The estimated $2 million project will give the Heritage Foundation its first permanent home after 47 years.  Street Dixon Rick has been retained as the architect and Rock City Construction has been hired as general contractor for the project.  The Heritage Foundation is pursuing both preservation tax credits and LEED certification for the project.  While the “Big House” is in the works, the Heritage Foundation is renting on Second Ave. N.

Preserving another historic property in Franklin ultimately meant finding it a new home.  The Heritage Foundation listed the Cotton Gin House for sale early in 2013 with the stipulation that it be moved offsite to another appropriate location.  After carefully reviewing more than 50 applications, the house was sold to John and Sharon McNeely, who are making plans to move the house to Giles County and restore it as a retreat in what is known as Hunt Country.  Moving the house from its current location is a big step in clearing the roughly ten-acre site of what will soon be the Carter’s Hill Park at the epicenter of the Battle of Franklin.

The Franklin Theatre took a big step in 2013 with the establishment of its own board of directors separate from the Heritage Foundation’s board.  The formation of a separate LLC for the theatre is in process, while ownership will be retained by the Heritage Foundation.

The History Channel came to Franklin in mid-October using our lovely town as a backdrop for commercials for Liberty Mutual Insurance that will air during the upcoming Winter Olympics.  Hundreds of volunteers turned out in force to serve as extras for filming at Harlinsdale, the Franklin Theatre and the Old, Old Jail.  Leiper’s Fork and History Channel’s own American Picker Mike Wolfe starred in the commercials and was instrumental in bringing the History Channel to Franklin.

And in the midst of the changes, some things remained the same:

  • The Heritage Foundation welcomed some 250,000 guests to downtown Franklin’s four street festivals:  Brew Fest, Main Street Festival, Pumpkinfest and Dickens of a Christmas.
  • The Heritage Ball drew 700 party-goers for the 40th anniversary of Williamson County’s longest-running black tie event. The silent auction raised more money than ever before!
  • Nine beautiful homes were showcased during the Town & Country Tour of Homes with the help of some 300 Heritage Foundation volunteers.
  • Rick Warwick helped folks research the history of their homes and families, published the 45th volume of the Williamson County Historical Society Journal, spoke to local groups about Williamson County history and placed historical markers.
  • The Heritage Classroom program brought local history programs and walking tours of downtown Franklin to 3,500 public, private and home-schooled students.

Volunteers Who Make An Impact: Pam Chandler

Pam ChandlerOdds are where you’ll find a Heritage Foundation-coordinated event, you’ll find Pam Chandler too. She’s one of the organization’s most dedicated—and valuable—volunteers, and in the past year alone has served on the Heritage Ball’s silent auction committee that raised $42,000, and helped docents learn the history of Tour of Homes sites. She’s also spearheaded a crucial Human Resources initiative within the Foundation that should be implemented by the season’s end.

When Pam first moved to Franklin, it was several years before she sold her HR and consulting company to a firm out of Ohio in 2008. Though she still consults for a few choice clients, it allowed the entrepreneur to invest her time in projects she wasn’t able to before.

“Honestly, I’ve never seen a more dedicated group of people within an organization, and that includes the staff,” she says. “When I do something, I’m going to do it 100 percent—and it’s been so encouraging to see that everyone involved here truly committed to the mission.”

A year and a half ago, Pam started talking with Foundation’s Executive Director Mary Pearce about implanting more structured internal HR procedures. After that initial conversation, Pam began developing a comprehensive employee manual with the heavy input of the staff.

That manual, which has taken more than a year and a half to complete because of its intricate process, is being presented to the Foundation’s board members this month.

“The Foundation started out small, like most non-profits, and Mary realized that the organization needed to be more proactive as it grew. That’s when I offered my expertise,” Pam says. “This is more than an employee manual, it contains other personnel issues as well. My goal is to assist and serve as the Foundation’s HR department.”

Though her time is valued and well spent, Pam says volunteering with the Foundation isn’t just a feel-good act; it’s also an opportunity to form new friendships and relationships. Take for example the annual Ball invitation party that the Foundation throws, when dozens of ladies flock to its headquarters to spend several hours catching up and stuffing envelopes.

“The volunteers here are just fun. I’ve made so many friends through the Foundation,” she says. “I now know so many people in this town, and a lot of it was directed from volunteering here.”

Pam says she would encourage those looking for volunteer opportunities to learn more about the Foundation’s mission, and look at the direct impact it makes in the community.

“Your investments are equal investments. They are rewarded, which is huge for someone volunteering time and services,” she says. “ And truthfully, there’s always a place for someone to get involved here. All you have to do it ask. It doesn’t matter your skill set or interests, there is always a need for more volunteers.

“One fabulous thing about the Foundation is that its volunteer base is such an integral part of the organization. I believe that is a strong indicator of the strength of its mission.”

To learn how to volunteer, go here.


Heritage Foundation Plots Objectives For Year; Reflects On 2013

Old Jail by Ben Johnson copy (1).jpgLast month, Heritage Foundation of Franklin & Williamson County board and staff members gathered to reflect on the year’s progress and to establish goals for 2014.

The workshop, held at Puckett’s Gro. & Restaurant in Maury County, yielded a list of objectives for the organization that will shape the Foundation’s work in the coming year—one of which includes a renewed focus on a Harpeth Riverwalk installation in Historic Downtown Franklin. The group used their time in Columbia to study that city’s new downtown riverwalk, meeting with the city engineer who has spearheaded the project’s construction since 2010.

“This was a really valuable and very productive retreat, one where we were able to celebrate accomplishments and set goals for the new year,” said Mary Pearce, the Heritage Foundation’s executive director. “Facilitating an expanded riverwalk program and building a strong partnership with likeminded organizations is a top aim, and it’s something that’s been discussed in Franklin for years. We plan to lead a renewed focus on it in 2014.”

Pearce says that the Foundation has already had informal conversations with the Harpeth River Watershed Association and Franklin Tomorrow.

The Heritage Foundation—often in conjunction with its division, the Downtown Franklin Association—produces several festivals each year that support the organization’s mission. Pearce says the executive committee routinely evaluates all special events to confirm that each is truly mission-based and generating sustainable revenue.

Based on year-over-year trends, the board also discussed setting up a stronger volunteer leadership and committee system to assist staff in producing the award-winning festivals.

“We’ve continued to grow so much, and for that we are thankful. Between the Franklin Theatre, and our special events and festivals, the Foundation entertained almost a million people in 2012,” Pearce said. “We are always working to inspire the most amazing signature events possible.”

In early 2014, the Foundation will begin building teams for festival and fundraisers. Individuals interested in serving on those teams should email or call its office at 615-591-8500.

Perhaps the most significant project for the new year was set in motion this summer: finding a permanent home for the non-profit. With the help of FirstBank and the City of Franklin, the Foundation completed the purchase of Franklin’s ca. 1941 Art Deco-style “Old, Old Jail” building on Bridge Street—saving another endangered iconic building in Williamson County. The Foundation expects to invest approximately $1.7 million restoring the building to serve as their headquarters, and as a public resource for those interested in historic preservation.

The “Big House For Historic Preservation” will also feature a vast archive of old photographs collected by Historian Rick Warwick, who has helped countless people learn more about their family and property histories over the years. Pearce says the Foundation helps home and building owners with everything from National Register of Historic Places nominations and the Heritage Classroom program to becoming a part of Franklin’s Main Street program.

The accomplishment follows the transformative Franklin Theatre project and is an indicator of the organization’s strength and commitment to its mission.

“Over the course of 45 years, with the support of the community and the hard work of a dedicated staff and countless volunteers, the Heritage Foundation has helped drive a renaissance in Franklin,” said Cyril Stewart, Heritage Foundation board president. “What used to be a best-kept secret with empty stores and tremendous potential has now become a nationally celebrated destination for heritage tourism, and one of the best places to live in the country. The Foundation is proud of its past, present and future leadership role in Franklin’s progress.

“As we approach our first 50 years of service, our challenge now is to envision what challenges, opportunities and accomplishments the next 50 years will see.”

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.