Franklin preservationists applauded their neighbors Tuesday evening at an annual awards ceremony aimed at recognizing property owners who have helped keep the city’s historic feel intact.
This year, the $3 million restoration of downtown Franklin’s Five Points Post Office building took home the ceremony’s top honor.
The event at the Franklin Theatre also served as the Heritage Foundation of Franklin and Williamson County’s 48th yearly membership meeting, where a slate of new board members were chosen.
Dan Brown, a local government coordinator with the Tennessee Historical Commission, judged the preservation awards contest.
He said the post office project managed to completely rehabilitate the nondescript structure while allowing the building’s original use to continue.
“It’s really rare to keep the historic function,” Brown said.
Foundation leaders also highlighted the economic benefit that they said stems from projects in the downtown area, which has been majorly revitalized over the last few decades.
Brown said that as someone who works around the state, he has seen Franklin become “one of the premier preservation communities in the United States.”
Mary Pearce, the foundation’s executive director, estimated that the slew of events and attractions the organization helps stage bring in half a million visitors each year.
According to a presentation by Pearce and foundation president Julian Bibb, more than 70,000 tickets were sold to events at the Franklin Theatre in 2014. The theatre’s high-profile historic renovation helped its annual economic impact reach about $3.5 million.
While Pearce said she expected the restoration of the city’s “old, old jail” — which the foundation will use as its new headquarters — to be complete by the end of the year, she and Bibb said they still hoped to raise $500,000 more for the project.
So far, donors have contributed $1.6 million.
Other projects that were recognized included:
•The construction of an affordable home in Franklin’s Hard Bargain neighborhood. Brown said affordable housing that meets historic design guidelines is almost unheard of.
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