Leading the DFA Charge: Kristy Williams (A Q&A)

Among the Heritage Foundation’s programs is the Downtown Franklin Association (DFA), an organization that promotes and revitalizes the 150 unique places to explore in our historic core. After 10 years of serving the Heritage Foundation, we are proud to announce that our own Kristy Williams will take over as the Main Street Program Director!

To let you get to know Kristy a bit better, we’ve put together a quick Q&A. Learn more about her:

Q: How long have you worked at the Heritage Foundation, Kristy? A: 10 years

Q: Before the Foundation, what were you doing? A: I worked in banking for 19 years. I left Franklin National Bank to work for the Heritage Foundation.

Q: If you were to use three adjectives to describe the Franklin community, what would they would be? A: Exciting, friendly, and unique

Q: Why have you worked with the Heritage Foundation for a decade? A: I have been able learn, work with and meet wonderful people. Seeing this community step up to save the Franklin Theatre is just one of many examples of people making a difference here.

Q: In your opinion, what is it that makes downtown Franklin so special? The character and charm of Historic Downtown Franklin. I love all of the shops and restaurants here along with the people that own and run them. It is my favorite place to enjoy everything from shopping, a meal, coffee, entertainment and a walk.

Q: Now to the personal stuff! What was your favorite decade (’70s, ’80s, ’90s…)? A: The 80s….1880s that is!

Q: What’s your favorite Franklin event or festival? A: I enjoy all the festivals in Downtown Franklin.  From the costume contest at Pumpkinfest to all the fun characters at Dickens… you are in for a treat!

Q: How do you unwind?  A: A great conversation with a friend, an afternoon nap, or a trip to the beach.

Q: What’s your favorite way to celebrate your birthday?  For my 50th birthday I rode a camel…. that was something fun and different!

Q: We hear you’re a animal person. Tell us about it. A: My husband, Jeff, and I have always had dogs and currently have a Border Collie we rescued.  He has served as a therapy dog and been photographed and published in Lands’ End catalogue.

Q: What’s something people might not know about you? A: I have almost 90 cousins!

Q: What other activities are you involved with? A: A board member at Saddle Up!, and an advisory board member for the Franklin Farmers Market.

Q: Who is your favorite author? A: Ernest Hemingway

We’re thrilled to have Kristy leading the downtown Franklin charge! If you want to welcome her personally, stop by our offices at 134 Second Avenue North.

Today, downtown Franklin is an oasis of Southern hospitality housed in a 16-block National Register district of antique shops, gift and book stores, restaurants, art galleries, boutiques, lovingly restored homes and more. It boasts an award-winning Main Street, a stunning collection of more than 150 buildings on the National Register and a host of “Best of“ accolades–including Garden & Gun magazine’s 2014 “Best Southern Town.” Learn more about downtown Franklin 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 info@historicfranklin.com 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. 

 


National Recognition Keeps Coming For Downtown Franklin

photo by Jill Zientek
photo by Jill Zientek

Travel + Leisure Names Franklin One of “America’s Favorite Towns” and More

FRANKLIN, Tenn.– Travel + Leisure Magazine has named Franklin, Tennessee one of “America’s Favorite Towns,” following an online readers’ poll conducted last month. Coming in at #8 on the list, Franklin was included among other popular small-town tourism destinations such as Park City, Utah; Telluride, Colo.; and Amelia Island, Fla.

“There’s a festival for virtually every month of the year hosted in 18th-century Franklin’s brick-paved downtown—named among the country’s best by the National Trust for Historic Preservation,” the Travel + Leisure entry reads. “You might sample beer and Irish whiskey at the Main Street Brew Fest each March or bluegrass fiddling in late July, or join a Dickens-themed Christmas celebration. The town also ranked No. 3 for Christmas lights.”

The honor follows another T + L shout out, announced just last week: the publication ranked Franklin as the #18 on the “America’s Best Towns for Halloween“–citing the 30th Annual Pumpkinfest, Franklin Tomorrow’s Chili Cook-off, tour company Franklin on Foot’s actor-led ghost tours, and the Lotz House Civil War museum as viable reasons to journey to Franklin for the fall holiday. Poll results also show that readers voted Franklin the #7 “Friendliest Town in America.”

“These kinds of honors are a great reward for the efforts of so many people who work to make Franklin such a great place to live and work. Our Main Street program’s success is largely attributable to the business owners, and the passion they have for our community,” said Nancy Williams, Downtown Franklin Association (DFA) director. “It’s encouraging to continue to see Franklin being recognized as an authentic, eclectic place that offers something for everyone. Like we always say around here, downtown Franklin is 14 miles and 100 years from Nashville.”

In 1995, Franklin was honored as one of five “Great American Main Streets” in the inaugural annual competition held by the National Trust for Historic Preservation. Since then, it has been recognized by various outlets with titles including “Best Small Town in Tennessee,” “America’s Most Romantic Main Street,” “One of America’s Greatest Antique Destinations,” and “Best Places to Visit for Historic Preservation,” among others.

The DFA works in partnership with its members and the Heritage Foundation of Franklin & Williamson County to protect and preserve the city’s cultural resources, and continues to help spearhead the revitalization of Franklin’s historic downtown core. Together, the two non-profit organizations organize and promote several festivals and happenings each year, including the upcoming Dickens of a Christmas, Dec. 14-15. For more information about the DFA’s work and the events it coordinates, go to www.downtownfranklintn.com.

To view Travel + Leisure‘s “America’s Favorite Towns” poll results, go to www.travelandleisure.com/toc.