5-acre property in the heart of downtown Franklin to be transformed into landmark destination to enrich Williamson County through education, art, history, nature and community for generations to come
The Heritage Foundation of Williamson County today celebrated a formal groundbreaking for Franklin Grove Estate & Gardens, the highly anticipated five-acre landmark destination which will feature an art museum, a historic African-American segregation-era Rosenwald schoolhouse, an innovation center for local start-up businesses, and beautiful natural gardens and green space.
“Franklin Grove Estate & Gardens is the largest preservation project in the Heritage Foundation’s 56-year history,” said Bari Beasley, president and CEO of the Heritage Foundation of Williamson County. “Legacy projects like Franklin Grove don’t just happen. In addition to the hard work of the Heritage Foundation staff, our board, volunteers and the community at large, it’s also the heartfelt generosity of our donors who made this possible. Thank you to everyone who played a part in making this historic groundbreaking possible today. This will be a gem of the region and an inspiring cultural destination for generations to come.”
The Heritage Foundation will be partnering with Franklin-based Oversite, which specializes in owner’s representative and development consulting services from project inception to turnover, to lead Franklin Grove’s transformation.
Oversite President and Managing Partner Jim Cross said, “Our team is honored to be a part of the transformative Franklin Grove Estate & Gardens project. This five-acre cultural landmark, set to showcase an art museum, a historic Rosenwald schoolhouse, an innovation center, and lush green spaces, embodies our commitment to meaningful development and community enrichment. Oversite is an owner’s representative and development consulting company in Franklin. They represent owners and developers to fully manage their construction projects. A few of Oversite’s services include putting together the project team, managing the full budget, schedule, design and construction of a project on behalf of the owner.”
Franklin Grove is the former O’More College of Design which dates back to the mid-1800s, described as the home of a “Female Seminary at Franklin Grove” in an 1834-advertisement.
Added Beasley, “Not only have we brought the property back to a historic name, but we’re bringing many of the elements back to their original use to create a sense of place, timelessness and beauty for all people to engage with education, art, history, nature and community.”
Key features of Franklin Grove will include:
Museum of Art & Education Center
Franklin Grove will repurpose the historic Perkins-Winstead Mansion into the Robert N. Moore Museum of Art. This iconic location will curate the artistic works of local and national artisans with a rotating display of painting, photography, sculpture, artifact, furniture exhibitions, and be a place for education opportunities connected to the exhibitions and the mission of Franklin Grove.
3.5 acres of the Franklin Grove estate will offer a haven for the natural beauty of Middle Tennessee’s horticulture, including open green spaces, water displays, seasonal plant and flower exhibits, formal gardens, secluded spaces for peace and reflection, and beautiful landscaping throughout the grounds that also highlight the signature, estimated 200-year-old McDowell Oak Tree.
Lee-Buckner Rosenwald School
The Lee-Buckner Rosenwald School has relocated to Franklin Grove, to be preserved as an immersive experience will allow guests to sit at desks, look at artifacts, discover stories from students, and reveal the lasting impact educational pursuits have had on Williamson County. The Rosenwald Fund, supported the efforts to build Rosenwald Schools to educate African American children across the rural, segregated South. Today, only 10% of the 5,357 schools constructed between 1917-1932 have survived. Lee-Buckner is the last remaining Rosenwald School in Williamson County (read its history here).
Franklin Innovation Center at the LeHew Mansion
The LeHew Mansion now boasts the first innovation and entrepreneurial center in Williamson County within a historic property. In partnership with Williamson, Inc. (the Williamson County chamber of commerce), the Franklin Innovation Center is an incubator for numerous local start-up businesses, offering office space at below-market rates to encourage their success and growth, while retaining local talent.
With construction beginning now led by owner’s representative Oversite, work on Franklin Grove Estate & Gardens is expected to be fully completed Q4 2025.
ABOUT THE HERITAGE FOUNDATION OF WILLIAMSON COUNTY
Since 1967, the Heritage Foundation of Williamson County has been dedicated to preserving Williamson County’s architectural, geographic and cultural heritage as well as promoting the ongoing revitalization of downtown Franklin in the context of historic preservation. Notable projects include The Franklin Theatre, Roper’s Knob, parts of the Franklin battlefield and the Old, Old Jail. Events and festivals produced by the Heritage Foundation such as Main Street Festival, the Heritage Ball, PumpkinFest and Dickens of a Christmas bring an estimated 300,000+ locals and visitors to downtown Franklin each year, creating more than $10 million in economic impact annually. The Heritage Foundation owns and operates The Franklin Theatre, Downtown Franklin Association, Franklin Grove Estate & Gardens and its newest historic adaptive reuse project, the History and Culture Center of Williamson County. For more information about the Heritage Foundation, visit www.williamsonheritage.org.
ABOUT FRANKLIN GROVE ESTATE & GARDENS
The former O’More College of Design property will become a landmark destination that creates a sense of place, timelessness and beauty for all people to engage with education, art, history, nature and community. This visionary reuse of this historic property stands as the largest preservation project in the 56-year history of the Heritage Foundation of Williamson County’s efforts to save the places and stories that matter. Franklin Grove Estate & Gardens will be a haven of history, art, culture, and education focusing on the deep roots and traditions of Williamson County.
Plans for the five-acre property include an art museum, a historic African-American segregation-era Rosenwald schoolhouse, an innovation center for local start-up businesses, and beautiful natural gardens and green space. For more information, visit https://williamsonheritage.org/divisions/franklin-grove/.