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. 


Heritage Ball to Celebrate 40 Years of Preservation Success

40th Annual Heritage BallFrom Roper’s Knob to the Franklin Theatre, and a long list of historic treasures saved in between, the Heritage Foundation of Franklin & Williamson County has a lot to celebrate. The 40th Annual Heritage Ball, to be held Saturday, Sept. 21, 2013 at the Eastern Flank Battlefield Park in Franklin, will be a retrospective on all that has been accomplished over the course of nearly a half century.

The Foundation’s work could not be done without its members and supporters, including corporate sponsors who underwrite significant expenses for key fundraising events. FirstBank has agreed to serve again as presenting sponsor for the Heritage Ball, underscoring their commitment to the community and the Heritage Foundation’s mission.

“FirstBank is making a big investment in downtown Franklin because we believe in the value of our history, and the Heritage Foundation has been the driving force behind preserving and enhancing our historic treasures,” said Gordon Inman, FirstBank’s Chairman – Middle Tennessee. “We’re excited about the restoration of the Historic Five Points Post Office, and about working with the Heritage Foundation on other projects moving forward. The Ball is a wonderful way to celebrate 40 years of success and to raise funds toward the future, and we are delighted to be a part of it.”

Jan and Andy Marshall, long-time Williamson County residents who own and operate the very popular Puckett’s family of restaurants, have been named the 2013 Ball chairs.

Andy took the path of his father’s grocery store business, purchasing his first Piggly Wiggly store at the age of 26, and eventually owned several stores in the area. He was president of the Tennessee Grocers Association, but his love of food, music and community began to steer him in a different direction in the mid-‘90s.  In 1998, he opened Puckett’s Gro. & Restaurant in Leiper’s Fork, and the rest, as they say, is history.

Today, the Marshalls own Puckett’s restaurants in downtown Franklin, downtown Nashville and downtown Columbia. Puckett’s Boat House in downtown Franklin opened last year, and the Marshalls are part owners in Gray’s on Main, set to open this spring on historic Franklin’s Main Street. The restaurants have won multiple awards for best barbecue, meat and three, service, music and more.

Through the first decade of Puckett’s growth, Jan served as the company’s marketing and public relations arm. Previously, she was a director of admissions at Franklin Road Academy. She continues to play a central role in the development of the Puckett’s family of restaurants. The Marshalls have been married for 26 years, and have three adult children, Claire, Emily and Cliff. Their first grandchild is due this summer.

“We’ve always been proud to be associated with the Heritage Foundation, and it is a true honor to be asked to serve as chairs of the Heritage Ball,” Jan Marshall said. “We’re looking forward to working with the team to make the 40th Anniversary event one that will be remembered another half century from now.”

Angela Calhoun is returning as design chair, having produced a number of spectacular Balls over the last several years. She says the theme will reflect the landmark anniversary, with the color scheme associated with the traditional red that accompanies a 40-year commemoration.

“We are planning some special surprises throughout the evening that I think will make this one of the most memorable events ever,” Calhoun said.  “Every year, we try to build upon and top what has been done before, so our goal is to deliver an amazing experience that will dazzle all of the senses!”

All proceeds from the Heritage Ball benefit the work of the 46-year-old Heritage Foundation, a non-profit 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.  For more information on the Ball, and to learn more about the Heritage Foundation, visit www.historicfranklin.com or call Torrey Barnhill at (615) 591-8500, Ext. 20.