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

HERITAGE TOUR 2015

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.

 


39th Annual Tour of Homes: One Of The Best Yet!

Eleven local property owners opened their doors to host the Town & Country Tour of Homes, June 7-8, 2014, and more than 1,100 people turned out for the 39th annual event, which benefits the Heritage Foundation!

In honor of the 150th anniversary of the Battle of Franklin, the Foundation’s tour featured homes and buildings standing on that fateful day, and placed a special emphasis on the Civil War tales surrounding the respective properties. As a new feature, the event also included costumed re-enactors and period demostrations at many of the sites. Trained volunteers were stationed throughout the properties to relate stories of the respective homes or businesses from the perspectives of the people in the midst of the fray. Some of the sites hosted live music and refreshments, too!

The Foundation is thrilled that so many individuals turned out to support the organization and to view the community’s preservation work. We look forward to its four decade celebration in 2015! Learn more about this year’s tour here.


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.


McNeelys Named Chairs for Tours of Home

A downtown Franklin couple who has been involved in the preservation of a number of National Register homes has been named chairs of the Heritage Foundation of Franklin and Williamson County’s 39th Annual Town & Country Tour of Homes, to be held June 7th and 8th.

“We share time between the mountains of North Carolina and our home on West Main Street in Franklin, and we’ve always enjoyed the romance of an old house that bends and twists,” Sharon McNeely said. “We’ve developed incredible relationships as a result of our living here and working with the Heritage Foundation and wanted to support the Tour of Homes as a spotlight on the importance of historic preservation.”

The McNeelys, who have owned three properties listed on the National Register of Historic Places, live in a ca. 1888 Victorian home in Franklin’s Hincheyville Historic District that has been featured on the tour in the past. As one of the Heritage Foundation’s earliest preservation success stories, that house was moved to the current site in the late 1970s. The McNeelys are currently working with the Foundation to relocate the “Cotton Gin” house from the site of the new Carter’s Hill Battlefield Park on Columbia Avenue.

In 2005, they bought their home in downtown Franklin and became seasonal residents. They’re often seen walking around Hincheyville with their rescued greyhound, Keith, and both are avid equestrians.

“Franklin has been a special place to me for a long time, as I grew up coming here because of the horses,” Sharon said. “When I introduced John to downtown Franklin, we both decided it was time to put down roots here. We’ve been welcomed with open arms and always look forward to coming back home.”

Now in its 39th year, the Town & Country Tour of Homes invites the public inside historic homes, buildings and notable examples of sensitive infill within historic districts. This year’s event features 11 properties with a focus on antebellum structures, recognizing the Sesquicentennial of the Battle of Franklin.

Pre-1864 locations include the Harris-McEwen House (ca. 1832); The Eaton House (ca. 1816); The Old Williamson County Courthouse (ca. 1858); Landmark Booksellers (ca. 1808); The Saunders-Marshall-Wright Gardens (ca. 1805); The Masonic Lodge (ca. 1823-1826); The Harrison House (ca. 1810-1826); Laurel Hill (ca. 1854) and Rest Haven Cemetery (est. 1855). Other locations include The Roberts-Moore House (ca. 1898) and The Belle House, built in 2014 in Hincheyville by Thrive Homes. Living history presentations will enhance the experience at a number of sites.

Tickets are $30 in advance and $35 at the door, and are good for the weekend of June 7th and 8th. Bob Parks Realty, LLC is the presenting sponsor. To learn more about the Town & Country Tour of Homes or to purchase tickets, please call the Heritage Foundation at (615) 591-8500, x18 or go here.

Since 1967, 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.