Franklin, Tennessee is a gem of a little town. I should know. Both my parents grew up in Franklin and I spent many a summer hour visiting my grandmother’s house as I mowed her yard, played catch in the back yard, helped in the large vegetable garden that was on a lot behind the house, or ran down the street to Alfred’s (a small store in a converted church) for ice cream and candy. Murfreesboro, where we lived, was a big city compared to Franklin, but that meant that Franklin had an intimacy that was familiar, welcoming, and walkable to a 12 year old boy.
Franklin has changed through the years. After my grandfather died, my grandmother moved to Murfreesboro to live with us and she sold the family house to the city, which let it fall into disrepair. We would drive by on occasional trips back with her to visit friends and lament the shape of the old Bearden-Brown home place.
But a wonderful thing happened. The local preservation group – the Heritage Foundation of Franklin and Williamson County– bought my grandmother’s house as one of their first preservation projects. They restored the small frame house and sold it to buyers who wanted to protect the property. Now when you look at that picture at the top (from 1981) or from Google street view above (a more recent view), you’ll see the trim little house I remember, preserved for future generations to enjoy.
That was just one of the many great things the Heritage Foundation has done for Franklin. They set up an award-winning Main Street program. They saved the old downtown post office. They restored more buildings and fought to save the Civil War battlefield that was so integral to the city and county. Late last month in Tulsa, this good work was recognized once again when the National Trust for Historic Preservation awarded the Heritage Foundation of Franklin and Williamson County with a National Preservation Honor Award. This was a “slam dunk” of an award, when you look at everything this group has done for this wonderful place. You can visit the PreservationNation You Tube channel to see videos on all the award winners, but just click below to see why I love Franklin. It is a place that shaped me and my family in countless ways, and it continues to do so even today.
More to come…
David, it seems like Grandmother has been on all our minds lately, as I have talked about her to groups twice this week–first to a group of old folks at an Egyptian nursing home, where I led their chapel service, and then at the boys’ school this morning, where I spoke for their chapel. I was talking about how she never sang, and the joy it brought Dad when he heard her sing a couple of days before she died. She had a great influence on all of us–what a heritage we have. As for Franklin, it is one of the things on my “to do with Dad” list when I come later this week for a visit. I haven’t been there in several years, and always like walking around her area of town. I’ll enjoy seeing the house since it’s been restored. I don’t remember much about the days she lived there, but I do remember Alfreds, because Joe and I used to walk down there together. Looking forward to seeing you soon. Carol
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