In this fast-paced year, the Heritage Foundation’s blog brought current, relevant, and interesting information from the field. During the hustle and bustle of the holiday season, sit back, relax, and enjoy our quick recap of this year in preservation and education!

A Little Bit of Everything
2022 brought us a little bit of everything – in a good way! We continued to pivot in the first half of the year, much like the rest of our county and country, to provide our members and readers with timely and relevant notes from the field, our 2nd annual countywide endangered list Sites to Save,  our first Lee-Buckner History Day, to our 2nd annual Summer Educator Institute, our 6th annual Preservation Symposium, our first ever Practical Preservation Series, and so much more! We even spent time on the road speaking at the Warwick Lecture Series, The African American Heritage Society of Williamson County’s Porch Talks, The College of William & Mary, College of Charleston, and spoke at multiple virtual conferences! Before we look forward and reveal a sneak peek for 2023, here is a look back on our incredible work in 2022!

We kicked things off our multi-part blog series, Diving Deeper: Re-Evaluating Historic Buildings and Homes. So, what does it all mean? The blog provided candid reasons for why we preserve historic homes and buildings, what historic architecture can tell us, and breaking down the different types of preservation standards are available for consideration when preserving a place. Thanks to a large grant from the Tennessee Wars Commission, we also kicked off a full Ground Penetrating Radar (GPR) study at Franklin Grove!

As we continued to champion Franklin Grove in the community, we participated in several informative neighborhood meetings in Franklin. And though we were still conducting our programs virtually, we launched our 4th annual Warwick Lecture Series with historian and local author LeighAnn Gardner, discussing her new book, To Care for the Sick and Bury the Dead: African American Lodges and Cemeteries in Tennessee. We also conducted site visits at “The Castle” (Castle Recording Studios) and the Winstead Tabernacle, First Missionary Baptist Church, Shorter Chapel and Providence United Primitive Baptist Church, all located with the Natchez Historic District.


We jumped into spring by continuing our Digging Deeper blog series on Re-Evaluating Historic Buildings and Homes! We made a few more site visits, this time in Brentwood and Nolensville. We began our fieldwork on a historic property along Franklin Road while also starting our early survey research for the upcoming countywide GIS survey of all historic and cultural resources, stopping at some of the most rural areas of the County including the Moses Steel Cemetery, Beech Grove United Methodist Church, Harpeth Lick Cumberland Presbyterian Church.  As a part of Section 106 compliance review, we surveyed historic and cultural resources along a portion of the Nashville & Decatur Railroad in Thompson’s Station. And we attended Williamson Inc’s Day on the Hill, meeting with local and state representatives and business leaders to advocate for the state historic tax credit in the county. We started our first ever Practical Preservation Series, with architectural conservator Grace Abernethy discussing historic paints and finishes and ended the month by hosting our first Lee-Buckner History Day, celebrating its 95th birthday with its alumni at Franklin Grove!


We worked with our Preservation Advocacy Committee to launch our Sites to Save campaign, encouraging community support and nominations for sites that could use preservation advocacy. We began phase II, a two-day archaeological excavation at Franklin Grove. And for the Main Street festival we encouraged kids (and adults) to be an archaeologist, digging in the dirt for artifacts and learning how to identify objects. To learn more about Rosenwald Schools, our team attended a special lecture hosted by Belmont University featuring photographer and public historian Andrew Feiler. Through community engagement, we partnered with Visit Franklin to speak to their ambassador program about our missional work and made a site visit to the historic neighborhood of Hard Bargain.


This was a busy month for us as we celebrated National Preservation Month with the announcement of our purchase of the c1905 historic Jail with plans to open the History & Culture Center of Williamson County in 2023!  During our 6th annual Preservation Symposium, we hosted speakers from Charleston, Knoxville, and Oxford, Mississippi, challenging us all to think creatively for how we continue to advocate for saving places and recognizing the importance of placemaking through diverse storytelling. During the symposium, we announced our 2nd annual Sites to Save Endangered List and recognized our award winners during our 46th annual Preservation Awards ceremony. Our Warwick Lecture Series featured Dr. Tiffany Momon and her collaborative work on the Black Craftspeople Digital History Project while Nancy Williams, Executive Director of the Tennessee Main Street Program, was our featured speaker for our Practical Preservation Series.  We ended the month at the Lee-Buckner Rosenwald School, photographing many of the alumni for a special upcoming project in 2023!


School’s out but not for our teachers! We hosted nearly 70 teachers for our 2nd annual Summer Educator Institute. This two-day intensive experiential learning opportunity offers our local and regional teachers a chance to become students again, learning from local, state, and national public history scholars, including local history tours, lectures at the Franklin Theatre, and breakout workshops at Franklin Grove.  By mid-month, we found ourselves conducting another site visit, this time, to historic Wyatt Hall. We attended the Juneteenth Gala at The Factory and hosted a booth on the public square during the Juneteenth festival in downtown Franklin. We began our first summer graduate internship program with three students. They learned how to document historic structures, conduct fieldwork, and assist with digital history projects!


Even though it’s the middle of summer, we still moved forward with a dynamic program featuring our very own county historian, Rick Warwick! Rick brought down the house with his delightful, anecdotal stories about the “old-timers” of Williamson County and how he came to collect items such as sugar chests, samplers, and quilts. As a part of our summer internship program, we brought our students out to the Perkins and Reams cemeteries to conduct fieldwork. We also had the pleasure of presenting our research on the Lee-Buckner Rosenwald School at the African American Heritage Society’s Porch Talk with several of its alumni.


As everyone headed back to school, we head back to basics, ending our inaugural Practical Preservation Series with Founder of 906 Architects, Mike Hathaway who provided us all with practical tips and ideas on how to become a more informed public preservationist when purchasing and restoring a historic home. As our internship program shifted from summer to fall, we added four students who began working with our Senior Director of Preservation on a small archaeological excavation at Franklin Grove. They learned how to appropriately move dirt, sift for artifacts, document, and catalogue objects as they came up out of the ground.


Our Senior Director of Preservation was a featured presenter at the Slave Dwelling Project Conference at the College of Charleston. There she spoke on the history of Franklin Grove and our plans for the Rosenwald School. We also assisted with advocating for a preservation-minded buyer for historic Breeezeway, a c1830 home with a wonderful preservation story, and supported our community partners at the Hard Bargain Annual Dinner.


We began the month celebrating the best in preservation at the 49th annual Heritage Foundation Ball and during Pumpkinfest hosted our Jr. Heritage 2nd annual Jail  n’ Bail, bringing in over $11,000 in bail money! We were honored to have Franklin Alderman Bev Burger and Alderman at Large Gabriel Hansen and Executive Director of the Hard Bargain Association Derrick Solomon participate in this year’s lock up! We got into the spooky season by partnering with Franklin Walking Tours, offering late night tours of both historic jails!


We started the month at the annual Williamson Inc luncheon, learning about the various partners in the community and how best to advocate for historic homes and smart growth in the county. Our initiative to save Beechwood Hall that began in late October, continued through November as we worked alongside the private property owners in meaningful conversations on how best to protect the home at this time. We also commemorated the anniversary of the Battle of Franklin on November 30th.


As we close out 2022, we are reminded of the wonderful preservation advocacy work we do each day with our community partners, civic leaders, members, and citizenry to save the places and share all stories of our county’s history and culture. We hope to see all of you at our Dickens of A Christmas Festival this weekend and look forward to a bright 2023!!


Article written by: Rachael Finch, Senior Director of Preservation, Education & Advocacy for the Heritage Foundation of Williamson County, TN