People Who Make An Impact: Meet Lynne McAlister (Q+A)

Lynne McAlisterAs the newest member of the Heritage Foundation team, Lynne McAlister is a “born and bred” Franklinite who recently moved back from London–and currently lives in Historic Downtown Franklin.

She’ll be heading up the Special Events here at the Foundation–which includes the Heritage Ball, the community’s longest-running black tie event. Below, we’ve put together a short Q&A, so that you can get to know Lynne a bit better!

Q: Tell us a little about what you’re doing for the Heritage Foundation?

A:  I’m planning the Heritage Ball, which means I am meeting generous sponsors and gathering loads of talented, enthusiastic and creative people. Together we’re imagining a beautiful and profitable night to remember.

Q: Why did you want to work with the Foundation?

A: It’s an absolute thrill to see the way that visionaries and the Heritage Foundation have worked to keep the best of the past and simultaneously nurturing a vibrant future. I want to be a part of that!

Q: What is your favorite part about the job, so far? 

A: Meeting so many people that love Franklin and Williamson County as much as I do.

Q: We hear you were an “ex-pat” for a while. Where were you, and why? 

A: My husband, Tony, and I have lived in London twice for a total of about 10 years. We moved back home last year. Why did we live there? The real answer is that we lived there because we adored it. Though it was his career that afforded us that opportunity, most corporate ex-pats make the move because they are looking for a safe adventure. That was true for us too.

Q: Did you enjoy the experience? 

A:  Oh yeah! It was an absolute delight! I loved making dear friends with people that come from varied backgrounds. I treasured the people, the culture, the parks, the diversity of a world city, the museums, the theatre, the architecture, the restaurants, especially the restaurants.

Q: What is one take-away from living abroad for several years? 

A:  Well I know I’m preaching to the choir here, but, living in a city that dates from pre-Roman times and traveling extensively through Europe lighted a passion for “saving the places that matter”.

It dawned on me one day that it’s up to all of us to be preservationist when I was wandering through Hampstead, a fetching little village just north of London, and spoke with a lady who was sweeping the stoop of her 17th century terraced house. I commented on how beautiful her home was. She said, “We are so happy that we get to be a part of this house’s life. Its story began long before us and will continue after we’re gone. I’m grateful I get to take care of it for a little while.” Yeah – what she said!

Q: We know you were involved with non-profits in London. Talk to us about that… 

A:  Indeed.  I was the President of the American Women’s Club of London.  This is a 116-year-old, very active organization (35-40 activities a month) of approximately 400 expat women.  It’s both social and philanthropic.   I also served on the board for the Federation of International Women’s Association of London which attempts to build bridges among various cultures by working together on humanitarian projects.  Lastly, I was involved with Federation of Women’s Clubs Overseas which lobbies Congress on behalf of expats.

Q: What’s your favorite thing about Franklin/Williamson County?

A:  I love that we having rolling hills with robust farms and an enviable downtown.  I love all the fresh array of friendly new faces that have sought Franklin out as a place to build their lives.  And I love that there are still folks around that knew my parents since they were kids.

Q: If you were stranded on a desert island, what are four things you’d have to take with you? 

A:  Humm….. Okay this may be cheating a bit but …a Bible, a hammock, pens and paper, magically transported cappuccinos from Frothy Monkey.


The best way to get to know Lynne is to meet her in person! Come by the Foundation offices on Second Avenue North, or email her here.


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:

Heritage Foundation Calls for 2015 Preservation Awards Nominations

Harris-McEwen Home

The Heritage Foundation of Franklin & Williamson County is now accepting nominations for its 48th Annual Preservation Awards, which serve to celebrate outstanding historic preservation projects in the community. To receive a form, contact Heritage Foundation’s Linda Childs at 615-591-8500 ext. 16. The document can also be downloaded HERE: 2015 Preservation Awards Application.

The awards 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 character of Williamson County.

Winners are announced each May at the nonprofit’s yearly member meeting, which falls during National Historic Preservation Month. 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.

“We are extremely proud of the property owners who have saved jewels of this community, and eagerly anticipate recognizing their efforts each year,” said Mary Pearce, executive director of the Heritage Foundation. “Historic preservation, done the right way, is part of what makes Williamson County so unique. These owners’ visions have helped the Foundation protect and preserve additional pieces of our heritage.”

Taking home the top honors of 2014 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. In addition to the two grand Preservation Award prizes, the Heritage Foundation recognized 21 separate projects at last year’s banquet that demonstrated the value of preservation.

Properties may be nominated by outside parties, or submitted by owners. 2015 awards categories will be determined once the nominations have been received and reviewed.

The new application deadline is April 10, 2015.

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.

Cindy Townsend Holding Silent Auction for Foundation Through Franklin Store

Town’s End General Store in downtown Franklin announced the closing of its store this week–but when one door shuts, another one opens!

Cynthia Townsend, owner of the shop, also revealed that she will open her franchise-owned business, Jamba Juice, in its location come Spring 2015. Though Town’s End General Store is closing, it is now offering discounts on items throughout the store–including display and antique items.

The sale will continue through the first week in February, and conclude with a silent auction coinciding with Franklin Art Scene on Friday, Feb. 6. The silent auction will end on Friday, Feb. 8. The proceeds from the event will benefit the Heritage Foundation of Franklin & Williamson County and Williamson County CASA.

Silent auction items will include merchandise left after the store’s sale, items Cindy has saved for the auction, antique pieces from Cindy’s own collection, and more!

“We are glad to have the opportunity to give back to our community through local charitable involvement,” Cindy says.

Jamba Juice Company is a leading restaurant retailer of all-natural, specialty beverage and food offerings–which include whole fruit smoothies, fresh-squeezed juices, breakfast wraps, wellness bowls, sandwiches, flatbreads, kids’ meals and a variety of baked goods and snacks.

“Community involvement is extremely important to the Jamba brand, and we want to continue to have an impact in the area by promoting a health, active lifestyle through better options–as well as programs that support schools, youth sports and local causes.”

Town’s End General Store is located at 504 West Main Street, two doors down from Sweet CeCe’s.

To learn more about Jamba Juice, go to

A. Marshall Family Foods Inc. Raises Money For Heritage Foundation

A. Marshall Foods - Donation

A. Marshall Family Foods Inc. raised thousands of dollars for the Heritage Foundation of Franklin & Williamson County through events hosted by two of its downtown Franklin restaurants in 2014, the restaurant group revealed earlier this month.

Owner Andy Marshall and his team presented a check worth $7,370.00 to Heritage Foundation staff and volunteers this past Tuesday at 2 p.m. at Puckett’s Boat House at 94 E. Main Street.

In December, friends and customers of Puckett’s Gro. & Restaurant were invited to celebrate 10 years in Franklin, with a special night of throwback menu items, live music performances—and a roast of Marshall. The lively evening packed the house, and ticket proceeds–plus several several additional gifts–were garnered for the Heritage Foundation’s work in restoring the Old, Old Jail (soon to be known as the “Big House for Historic Preservation”).

In addition, the Foundation received proceeds from the Puckett’s Boat House “Puckett’s Dollar For Your Thoughts” 2014 initiative that generated dollars from money pinned to the restaurant’s low ceiling. Over the past year, the Southern seafood eatery provided each table with buckets of tape and markers, and encourage customers to stick dollar bills—with their own custom messages—to the building’s structure in the name of the Foundation.

A. Marshall Family Foods Inc. is a Franklin-based company with seven family-owned restaurant and hospitality businesses within Middle Tennessee, including Puckett’s Gro. & Restaurant and Puckett’s Boat House in downtown Franklin.

Andy Marshall is a Heritage Foundation board member, and wife Jan Marshall is a executive committee member of the Downtown Franklin Association.

Tickets on Sale for Next Gen’s 2015 Three Blind Vines Benefit

NOTE: Due to weather, the 2015 event was rescheduled for March 27, 2015. 

The Next Generation Heritage Foundation of Franklin & Williamson County has announced that tickets are now on sale for their 8th annual Three Blind Vines fundraiser supporting Franklin’s “Old, Old Jail,” soon to be better known as The Big House for Historic Preservation.

The event takes place on Friday, February 20 from 6:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. in Liberty Hall at The Factory in Franklin. This year’s event décor and ambiance will hearken back to the Art Deco Era, inspired by the architecture of the circa 1941 Old, Old Jail building. Suggested dress is cocktail attire, and admission includes live entertainment, food from favorite local restaurants 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 two Grand Prize winners of the blind wine tasting, both of whom will go home with a “winner’s vault” of wine.

Tickets may be purchased in advance on their website at for $45. They will be $50 at the door. VIP tickets are available for $100 and include plush accommodations overlooking the tasting floor, additional food selections and a private bar area.

“Next Gen” invites the community to interact with their 3BV social media team through Facebook at, and on Twitter and Instagram 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 47-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. To learn more, go here.

Old, Old Jail

American Idol Winner Performing at 2014 Dickens, Town Sings, Snow on Main Street & More!

Dickens of a ChristmasThe Heritage Foundation is excited to reveal that American Idol winner Kris Allen will be performing as part of Dickens of a Christmas in Historic Downtown Franklin on Saturday, December 13! In its 30-year history, this is the first time Dickens of a Christmas has hosted a headlining act on its stage.

Allen, who recently self-released his third album titled “Horizons,” will perform on Saturday from 3:45-4:30 p.m. on the Public Square Stage. Attendees can look forward to a soulful performance from the pop-rock singer-songwriter who will entertain the crowd with songs from his recent repertoire, including the new Christmas single, “Baby, It Ain’t Christmas Without You.”

Produced by the Heritage Foundation of Franklin and Williamson County, Dickens of a Christmas transforms the streets of historic Franklin into a Victorian Christmas set for two days every December. This free event will take place from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday, December 13, and 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Sunday, December 14.

In addition to the scheduled performances on the stage near City Hall, Dickens will feature live entertainment at the intersection of 4th and Main Street, at Five Points, inside the Historic Franklin Presbyterian Church and on other locations along Main Street. One of the hallmarks of Dickens is costumed characters interacting with visitors on the street and this year will mark the return of Scrooge bellowing his “Bah! Humbug”, the nefarious Fagin, and English Bobbies (who are actually Franklin Police Officers on duty in costume). Guests may even run into a ghost of Christmas Past, Present or Future, Tiny Tim Cratchit or the Father of Christmas himself. More than 200 volunteers in costume will attend the festival.

In addition to the long-standing traditions involved with Dickens, some new features have been added to this year’s event:

For the first time, the public is invited to participate in two town sings. Guests will gather at the Public Square stage starting at 4:30 p.m. Saturday; Sunday’s town sing will take place in the Historic Presbyterian Church on Sunday, also at 4:30 p.m. 

“Dickens of a Christmas has become a tradition for many families who come to enjoy the memory-making moments of the weekend,” said Krista Dial, festival coordinator with the Heritage Foundation of Franklin & Williamson County. “It’s a nostalgic time that offers a glimpse into what life could have been like on Main Street during the Victorian era.”

Attendees can also expect to enjoy Victorian-themed fare, including traditional English offerings such as bangers and mash, shepherd’s pies, and fish and chips—and of course, roasted chestnuts and sugar plums.

Other activities include:

  • Horse-drawn carriage rides on 3rd Avenue South for $2 per person.
  • A Holiday Bazaar arts and crafts area that stretches down Franklin’s charming Main Street.
  • Violinists, hand bell choirs, carolers and even a water harmonica player all add to the entertaining street scene.
  • A Victorian costume contest on Sunday at 3 p.m.
  • Various photo opportunities around Main Street, one of which will include snow.

Last year more than 50,000 people attended the two-day occasion, which has been listed as a Top-20 event in the Southeast by the Southeastern Tourism Society.

“We are thankful for our dedicated staff members and volunteers who help drive the Foundation’s mission by producing these annual street festivals,” said Mary Pearce, executive director of The Heritage Foundation. “The hundreds of thousands of people who attend them each year are able to see how making preservation a priority has given us a remarkable Main Street landscape. Plus, our streetscape and restored Victorian architecture has given attendees a much more authentic Dickens experience than what we had three decades ago!”

The two-day weekend street festival is produced by the Heritage Foundation of Franklin & Williamson County and its division, the Downtown Franklin Association, which seek 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.

Take a Seat for the Old, Old Jail!

auction button for chairs


AUCTION STARTED: Monday, Nov. 10, 2014
AUCTION ENDS: Thursday, Nov. 20, 2014

Heritage Foundation of Franklin & Williamson County Historian Rick Warwick first became interested in local chair makers back in 1971, and has since authored books and hosted dozens of exhibits and presentations on historic Williamson County and Middle Tennessee furniture – hand-made sugar chests, samplers and other local heirlooms among them.

Over the last 40 years, Rick has collected more than 200 chairs, focusing on the locals who made them in the 19th and early 20th centuries, and representative examples of different chair styles from each. Now he’s offered 40 prime pieces from the collection to be auctioned in support of the Heritage Foundation’s campaign to save the Old, Old Jail on Bridge Street in downtown Franklin.

Starting Monday, November 10th, an online auction chaired by Lynne McAlister and Wendy Dunavant will allow the public to bid on the chairs, with some starting as low as $150. An event at FirstBank at Five Points on Thursday, November 20 will include a guided tour of local furniture history with Warwick and other interesting educational elements.

Chairs from the collection are showing up in downtown Franklin storefront windows, and the online auction – including some groups of multiple chairs sold in lots, will start on Monday at

You can see a few of these chairs in person by visiting the following downtown Franklin merchants:

  • The Registry – “Dorcas” was created by ex-slave Dick Poyner (1802-1882) at a chair factory on Pinewood Road. It features maple posts and slats, hickory rungs and a hickory seat woven by Rick Warwick.
  • Lulu – “Bernice” was also crafted by Dick Poyner, this chair features maple posts and slats, hickory rungs and an old cane seat.
  • The Cellar on Main – “Eugenia” is described as a fancy side chair with maple posts and slats, hickory rungs and hickory bark seats woven by Rick Warwick. The maker is unknown.
  • The Heirloom Shop – “Silas” was also made by Dick Poyner. It’s described as a side chair with maple posts and slats, hickory rungs with an elm bark seat woven by Rick Warwick.
  • Shoppes on Main – “Lucien” was found in Williamson County and features the initials “NB”. It’s made from hickory posts, slats, rungs and a bark seat. Also featured here is “Effie” which was purchased at the estate sale of Laura May Miller (Mrs. William). It’s described as a Knob Side Chair with maple posts, hickory slats and rungs. The oak seat was woven by Will Poyner.
  • Vue Optique – “Elijah” was crafted by ex-slave Dick Poyner (1802-1882) and features maple posts and slats, hickory rungs, original split seat with original Spanish brown paint.
  • Yarrow Acres – “Enoch Elliott” is a mid-19th century chair that was crafted at the Tennessee State Penitentiary. It includes maple posts and slats, hickory rungs, original paint and a hickory bark seat woven by Rick Warwick.
  • Bob Parks Realty – The “Bedford Brothers” chairs are believed to be from Maury or Marshall County. They are Knob Side chairs with maple posts, hickory slats and rungs with hickory bark seats woven by Rick Warwick.
  • Rare Prints Gallery – The “Thompson Twins” chairs were found in Leiper’s Fork. They are Knob Side chairs with maple posts, hickory slats and rungs and hickory bark seats woven by Rick Warwick.
  • FirstBank – “General Beauregard” was crafted by Robert Parker (1856-1915). It comes from Bakertown, TN in Hickman County. It’s described as an armed rocker with maple posts, arms and slats, hickory rungs and an oak split seat.
  • Landmark Bank – “Josephine” was found in Maury County. The maker is unknown. It is a heart-shaped-slat side chair with maple posts, hickory slats and rungs and a hickory bark seat woven by Rick Warwick.
  • Gallery 202 – “Vestal Coffin” was crafted by ex-slave Dick Poyner. It is an armed rocker with maple posts and slats, hickory rungs, walnut rockers and a hickory bark seat woven by Rick Warwick.
  • Shuff’s Music – “Fannie Mae” was found in Franklin and the maker is unknown. It is described as a triple ring side chair with maple posts and slats, hickory rungs, old green paint and a hickory bark seat woven by Rick Warwick.
  • The Red House – “Jedediah” was crafted by Dick Poyner at a chair factory on Pinewood Road. It’s an armed rocker with maple posts, arms and slats, hickory rungs, an old finish and a hickory bark seat woven by Rick Warwick.
  • Puckett’s – “Scarlet” was found in the Cool Springs area. It’s described as a knob side chair with maple posts and slats, hickory rungs and a hickory bark seat woven by Rick Warwick.
  • Bittersweet Primitives – “Hazel” was crafted by George W. Baker (1883-1955) in Kinderhook, Maury County, TN. It’s described as an armed rocker with maple posts and slats, hickory rungs and a hickory bark seat woven by Rick Warwick.

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.

Go here to view the auction, which opens on November 10th!

 This classic ladderback chair with original paint and great patina was made by inmates at the Tennessee State Penitentiary in the 1880s.

This classic ladderback chair with original paint and great patina was made by inmates at the Tennessee State Penitentiary in the 1880s.

Volunteers Who Make An Impact: Josh and Susan Denton

If you attended the 31st Annual Pumpkinfest last Saturday, you know it was one for the books! Drawing a crowd of more than 40,000 people, the Heritage Foundation rallied the troops to produce a bigger, better and more entertaining street festival than ever before.

The 2014 event marked another first: as a result of the year’s board retreat, each Foundation-produced festival will now be driven by staff and supported by chairmen, similar to the annual Heritage Ball.

Foundation board member Josh Denton and his wife, Susan, acted as the Pumpkinfest’s first chairs, going above and beyond to help staff members Rene’ Evans and Krista Dial throw one of the largest street parties of the year. The pair was approached in the spring to spearhead the initiative, and supported the Pumpkinfest team with creative ideas, scheduling, entertainment, sponsorships and more.

Prior to the festival the Dentons also hosted a ribbon cutting breakfast, where sponsors event organizers and city officials were thanked. The best part? Susan cooked much of the morning spread herself!

Josh, whose family hasn’t missed a Pumpkinfest in 10 years, says that the value of the free event lies in its family-centered fun.

“This festival is a wonderful opportunity to showcase historic Franklin and all that it has to offer, especially during such a beautiful time of the year,” he says. “It’s great to be able to give back to the community by offering a fantastic—and free—experience for families throughout Middle Tennessee.”

Thank you, Josh and Susan, for using your time and resources to help further the Foundation’s mission in saving the places that matter!

The Dentons would like to give a big “thank you” to the 2014 Pumpkinfest sponsors: Sponsors for the 2014 Pumpkinfest include Bethel University; Gullett Sanford Robinson & Martin, Attorneys at Law; Monroe Carrel Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt; Williamson Medical Center; Hyundai Leaf Filter; Patterson Company; The People’s Church; Children’s and Adolescent Dentistry of Franklin School of Rock; Schroder Chiropractic; Bob Parks Realty; City of Franklin; and the Downtown Franklin Association (DFA).

New York Times Writes About Franklin, Praises the Heritage Foundation

Featured Image - Main Street

On Oct. 24, 2014, The New York Times published a glowing piece on Franklin, Tenn., calling it a “small-town gem near Nashville”–and the Foundation is proud to say that the paper mentioned our organization. 

Excerpt: “Only a few years ago, the 1937 building was just another small-town movie theater that had gone out of business, become an eyesore and put a damper on entrepreneurial spirit. But the Heritage Foundation of Franklin and Williamson County — founded in 1967 and a major force in historic preservation — swooped in, rallied community support, bought the building and spearheaded an $8.7 million renovation.”

Read the story in its entirety below, or on the NYT website here.

“A Small-Town Gem Near Nashville”
by Christian L. Wright

It was Sunday night at the Cork & Cow. Around 6:30, four girlfriends met at the bar to have salads and Champagne and review the weekend. There was a nice hum in the dining room, where six couples had assembled at a long table along the tufted green banquette. At least a few of them had come for the weekly special that February evening: a $20 prime rib dinner and half-price bottles of wine. My sister and I had spent the day in Nashville and just wanted a quick bite, so we popped in to share some brussels sprouts and warm bread that came in a small cast-iron skillet. Service took a while, but no one seemed to mind. This is the pace of the South.

The steakhouse is in a two-story brick building on the corner of Main Street and Fourth Avenue South in downtown Franklin, Tenn. It’s not far from the town square, which is marked by a monument to the Confederate soldier, and across from a toy store that sells little wooden pickup trucks and novelties like garlic chewing gum. In recent years, a Starbucks and an Anthropologie have moved in along this five-block stretch. But it’s like a fantasy of small-town Main Street: brick sidewalks and cobblestone crosswalks, antique street lamps alternating with trees along the curb, wood-framed storefronts housing independent businesses, some spanking new, and well-preserved, low-slung buildings from the early 1900s all in a row.

Franklin is a Southern gem hiding in the shadow of Nashville, less than 20 miles north. Some call it a suburb of Music City — and plenty of farmland has been developed into subdivisions, strip malls and office plazas — but Franklin is a world away, with a history and culture all its own. Founded in 1799 and named in honor of Ben Franklin, the town is speckled with American artifacts, from Civil War bullet holes in the side of an outbuilding at the Carter House to a red brick factory with a tall, skinny chimney that produced Magic Chef stoves until 1959.

The 16-block historic downtown and three small residential districts that surround it won National Register of Historic Places status in 1975. It’s the kind of place where names on the slanting gray gravestones in the old cemeteries match the names of today’s prominent businessmen and local track and field stars. Maybe it doesn’t possess Savannah’s sultriness or the pedigree of Charleston, but the tea is just as sweet in the rolling hills of what the people around here call Middle Tennessee.

I never would have found Franklin if it weren’t for my sister, Lizzie. She moved here in 2009 with her family when her husband was hired as the head of the middle school at Battle Ground Academy, a private day school that was established in 1889. By now, I’ve visited often enough to see the place evolve and to witness the prosperity that is spilling over from Nashville’s boom times. Big corporations like Nissan have moved into the area, once a purely agricultural economy, bringing enough people and money to support a Whole Foods and tasteful new apartment complexes. And yet the place retains its small-town character — the population is barely over 66,000 — and a lovely old horse farm sprawls atop a hill overlooking the football field at the school.

Once, while the children were in school and Lizzie had the day off work as a nurse practitioner, we went rummaging around the Second Avenue antiques district, a “district” that’s the size of a postage stamp and spread among an old flour mill and a few houses that date from the early 1900s but draws an international clientele.

Among the stalls at the Franklin Antique Mall, opened some 30 years ago, you can find everything from a circa 1940s fat-man cookie jar and good Irish lace to a copper weather vane in the shape of a rooster and a cache of tarnished flatware, some of it sterling. Floors are uneven, ceilings are low, and there is plenty of mustiness, but in the warrens it’s possible to find a treasure. There, up on a high shelf, alongside a couple of wooden buckets, sat a dusty rose pitcher.

“Could I see that, please,” I said to the woman with reading glasses on a chain. “What, darlin’?” That pink pitcher, please. She brought it down, and lo, it was an authentic Russel Wright, from the early ’60s, which I could snap up long before it ended up at the nice new shops in Hudson and Rhinebeck and other bustling towns in the Hudson Valley in New York. The price was $50; I offered $25; the woman made a phone call; sold! for $30. (Later I found one of similar vintage on eBay for a starting bid of $79.95.) My sister was a little embarrassed by my haggling. “She’s visiting from New York City,” said Lizzie to the woman, who went to look for Bubble Wrap.

The flea market gold mine is about two blocks from the main square and four blocks from the Franklin Theater, the Art Deco cinema that’s the pride of Main Street. Only a few years ago, the 1937 building was just another small-town movie theater that had gone out of business, become an eyesore and put a damper on entrepreneurial spirit. But the Heritage Foundation of Franklin and Williamson County — founded in 1967 and a major force in historic preservation — swooped in, rallied community support, bought the building and spearheaded an $8.7 million renovation. “We had to reinvent it, not just save it,” said Dan Hays, the former head of the International Bluegrass Music Association in Nashville and now director of the theater. It’s now a 300-seat theater with a full bar, and it screens classic films, hosts society events and books local acts, like Sheryl Crow. “A lot of talent lives in Williamson County. We wanted to take advantage of that,” Mr. Hays said. “And it’s spurring activity on Main Street. It’s that pixie dust that changes a community.”

The change is perfectly obvious at Frothy Monkey, a branch of the original coffeehouse in Nashville. Against a backdrop of repurposed wood, exposed pipes and sustainable practices, in a converted house across from the First United Methodist Church, the late-morning crowd reveals a creative class that’s migrated into town. Small groups hatch plans over carrot muffins, a young couple sports footwear from Isabel Marant and Yohji Yamamoto, students from the local O’More College of Design get Americanos to go, and parties of one hunch over MacBooks.

“It’s the perfect life out here,” said John Hermann, the drummer from Widespread Panic who moved from New York (with a stop in Oxford, Miss.) years ago and is raising a family here. “People are friendly. ­People have time,” he said. “And everybody’s a songwriter. The way I meet a songwriter is when my furnace goes out. The Terminix guy, he’s a songwriter.”

Of course, there are some who have quit their day jobs. Plenty of the big names who play in Nashville live in Franklin, some out toward Leiper’s Fork. It’s worth taking the 15-minute drive to the village where older folks in Carhartt meet for lunch at the Country Boy Restaurant, and the original Puckett’s Grocery and Restaurant sits behind a single gas pump in all its ramshackle glory.

Leiper’s Fork would be a complete time warp except for the housewares shop that sells antique dish cupboards for $1,295, the David Arms Gallery in a converted barn, and the sophisticated security systems of the secluded estates all around. A refugee from New York bought a farm there and now features its fruits at Joe Natural’s Farm Store and Cafe.

A few weeks ago, as I was heading back to have dinner with my niece and nephew in Franklin, I took a back road through countryside reminiscent of an English landscape, with cows and streams and stone walls and clouds skimming the tops of the trees. Oh beautiful, for spacious skies, as the song goes.



Frothy Monkey, 125 Fifth Avenue South; 615-465-6279;

Cork & Cow, 403 Main Street; 615-538-6021; corkandcow­.com. Open for dinner.

Dotson’s Restaurant, 99 East Main Street; 615-794-2805. An old-school meat-and-three with first-rate fried chicken.

Gray’s on Main, 332 Main Street; 615-435-3603; graysonmain­.com. A gastro pub in a recently rehabbed old pharmacy that’s good for lunch and has music at night (plus a private club on the top floor).


In the sprawl, there are any number of chain hotels, from Marriott to Drury. For a more local flavor, try the Jefferson House, from about 1900, in the historic district, with three bedrooms and a leafy garden; from $200 per night with a two-night minimum; 615-281-0401;

In Leiper’s Fork, set up at Brigadoon, an enchanted little house built in 1885, appointed with an assured style that might stop Ralph Lauren in his riding boots. It’s comfortable for four; weekend rate, starting Thursday, is $250 per night, plus a $125 cleaning fee; 615-281-0401;


The historic downtown is compact and best seen on foot. At the visitors’ center on Fourth Avenue North, just off Main Street, pick up a map that covers the town in six walking routes, divided into themes like Historic Homes and Haunts & Headstones. (There’s also an app — and loaner iPads.) For something more bucolic, explore the trails of Harlinsdale Farm, a former Tennessee Walking Horse compound that’s now a public park.

The Brooklyn Flea has nothing on Franklin’s antiques district at Second Avenue South and South Margin Street. Haven (343 Main Street, sanctuaryofstyle­.com) sells Helmut Lang trousers and books from Assouline out of an old grocery with original wooden elevator; French’s Boots & Shoes (328 Fifth Avenue North; has the latest cowboy boots and secondhand Uggs. Rare Prints Gallery (420 Main Street; is as much museum as retailer of old engravings.

The Civil War sites — the Carter House, Lotz House and Carnton Plantation — are eerie reminders of the Battle of Franklin in 1864, one of the bloodiest of the war. The guided tours take time, but you can get admission to all three for $30;

A version of this article appears in print on October 26, 2014, on page TR4 of the New York edition with the headline: A Small-Town Gem Near Nashville.