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Franklin Grove Estate & Gardens

Art. Education. Nature. Community.

The former O'More College of Design property is in the process of becoming 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 55 year history of the Heritage Foundation of Williamson County's efforts to save the place and stories that matter. The Franklin Grove Estate & Gardens will become 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 entrepreneurial center for local start-up businesses, a place for small community gatherings, and beautiful natural gardens and green space.

Museum of Art & Education Center

Imagine a beautiful and intimate museum of art right in the heart of Williamson County. The plans for Franklin Grove include repurposing 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.  

The Museum of Art & Education Center further aligns with the history of the property and will help preserve and honor the property’s legacy as a center for visual art education during its years as the O’More College of Design. 

(note: representational stock photo only)

Natural Gardens

Historic writings about the property cite “...lofty trees of Elm and Poplar, beautiful flowers of almost every description, extensive and well laid-out gravel walks”. 

To uphold this past, 3.5 acres of the Franklin Grove estate will offer a haven for the natural beauty of Middle Tennessee’s horticulture. Current plans for the gardens include 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. We envision a place where thoughts meander, senses ignite, and tranquility abounds.

(note: representational stock photo only)

Lee-Buckner Rosenwald School

Originally the site of a post-Civil War Freedmen Bureau school, Franklin Grove is steeped in African American history. This historical thread is tied to more recent history through the circa 1927 historic Lee-Buckner Rosenwald School. Following its relocation from Spring Hill, TN to Franklin Grove, this 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, which supported the efforts to build Rosenwald Schools to educate African American children across the rural, segregated South, was established through a unique partnership between Booker T. Washington (Founder of the Tuskegee Institute) and philanthropist Julius Rosenwald (CEO of Sears & Roebuck). The effort has been called the most important initiative to advance Black education in the early 20th century. Today, only 10% of the 5,357 schools constructed between 1917-1932 have survived, and The National Trust for Historic Preservation lists Rosenwald Schools on its 11 Most Endangered Historic Places list. Lee-Buckner is the last remaining Rosenwald School in Williamson County.

 

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 Innovation Center is an incubator for several local start-up businesses, offering office space at below-market rates to encourage their success and growth, while retaining local talent. 

The building was formerly known as the Haynes-Berry house. Richard Haynes, a local hardware merchant and entrepreneur, purchased a piece of land and hired famed Nashville architect of the Ryman Auditorium, Hugh C. Thompson, to design his home in 1889. It remains an excellent representation of New South architecture, combining Romanesque Revival and Queen Anne designs.

Museum of Art & Education Center

Imagine a beautiful and intimate museum of art right in the heart of Williamson County. The plans for Franklin Grove include repurposing 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.  

The Museum of Art & Education Center further aligns with the history of the property and will help preserve and honor the property’s legacy as a center for visual art education during its years as the O’More College of Design. 

(note: representational stock photo only)

Natural Gardens

Historic writings about the property cite “...lofty trees of Elm and Poplar, beautiful flowers of almost every description, extensive and well laid-out gravel walks”. 

To uphold this past, 3.5 acres of the Franklin Grove estate will offer a haven for the natural beauty of Middle Tennessee’s horticulture. Current plans for the gardens include 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. We envision a place where thoughts meander, senses ignite, and tranquility abounds.

(note: representational stock photo only)

Lee-Buckner Rosenwald School

Originally the site of a post-Civil War Freedmen Bureau school, Franklin Grove is steeped in African American history. This historical thread is tied to more recent history through the circa 1927 historic Lee-Buckner Rosenwald School. Following its relocation from Spring Hill, TN to Franklin Grove, this 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, which supported the efforts to build Rosenwald Schools to educate African American children across the rural, segregated South, was established through a unique partnership between Booker T. Washington (Founder of the Tuskegee Institute) and philanthropist Julius Rosenwald (CEO of Sears & Roebuck). The effort has been called the most important initiative to advance Black education in the early 20th century. Today, only 10% of the 5,357 schools constructed between 1917-1932 have survived, and The National Trust for Historic Preservation lists Rosenwald Schools on its 11 Most Endangered Historic Places list. Lee-Buckner is the last remaining Rosenwald School in Williamson County.

 

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 Innovation Center is an incubator for several local start-up businesses, offering office space at below-market rates to encourage their success and growth, while retaining local talent. 

The building was formerly known as the Haynes-Berry house. Richard Haynes, a local hardware merchant and entrepreneur, purchased a piece of land and hired famed Nashville architect of the Ryman Auditorium, Hugh C. Thompson, to design his home in 1889. It remains an excellent representation of New South architecture, combining Romanesque Revival and Queen Anne designs.

“We strongly support the Heritage Foundation’s planned approach to preserving Franklin Grove’s historic property, which reflects well-established best practices of historic preservation, including adaptive reuse, infill construction, shared use with income-producing enterprises, and community engagement.”
- Rob Nieweg
VP, Preservation Services & Outreach
National Trust for Historic Preservation
"The commitment that the Heritage Foundation has made to purchase and protect the enclave now known as Franklin Grove, including the historic Perkins-Winstead House and the historic Haynes-Berry House, is a laudable vision that provides a blueprint for sustainability."
- E. Patrick McIntyre, Jr.
Executive Director, State Historic Preservation Officer
Tennessee Historical Commission
"It is urgently important and timely that the community of Williamson County will relocate the vacant Lee-Buckner School (to Franklin Grove)... I trust deeply that this community will uplift its full history and civic identity, through the lens of Williamson County’s Black educational experience."
- Brent Leggs
Executive Director, African American Cultural Heritage Action Fund
Sr. Vice President, National Trust for Historic Preservation
"Franklin Grove allows us to fulfill our mission to support the economic lifeblood of Williamson County... our small businesses."
- Matt Largen
President and CEO
Williamson, Inc. - Williamson County Chamber of Commerce and Office of Economic Development

Read the full Commendation Letters

Show Your Support as a Franklin Grove Ambassador!

Do you love this project? Become a Franklin Grove Ambassador! There is no financial commitment to join this ground-floor club. As an Ambassador, you’ll receive: regular news and information about the project, invitations to exclusive events and meetings, and a complimentary one-year membership (for first-time members) to the Heritage Foundation of Williamson County, TN

By submitting you agree to the below details:

Do you love this project? Become a Franklin Grove Ambassador! There is no financial commitment to join this ground-floor club. As an Ambassador, you’ll receive: regular news and information about the project, invitations to exclusive events and meetings, and a complimentary one-year membership (for first-time members) to the Heritage Foundation of Williamson County, TN

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Ambassadors:

368Morgan N.37064May 18, 2022
367Marty P.37064Apr 23, 2022
366Ken B.37067Apr 23, 2022
365Beverly B.37067Apr 23, 2022
364Leslie K.37064-1730Apr 20, 2022

Frequently Asked Questions

The Franklin Grove Estate and Gardens is the latest in a long history of historic preservation initiatives by the nonprofit Heritage Foundation of Williamson County, TN.  Our past efforts have supported the Lotz House, Battlefield of Franklin, Carnton, Roper’s Knob, McLemore House, the LeHew Magid Big House for Historic Preservation (Old, Old Jail), Lee-Buckner Rosenwald School, the downtown Main Street streetscape beautification, The Franklin Theatre renovation, and more – each contributing to the quaint appeal and historic charm that has made Williamson County so beloved.

We believe that Franklin Grove represents an integral part of Franklin’s history and therefore deserves to be stewarded for the benefit of the entire community. Franklin Grove will further contribute the ancillary benefit of spurring economic vitality within the county and preserving accessible natural green space for the enjoyment of all.

The property’s current zoning, Civic Institutional would have allowed for facilities such as childcare centers, funeral homes, clinics, rehabilitation centers, continuum care facilities and others to be built. However, when we secured the property from Belmont University, we did so with the intent of honoring the history of the property and adding to its legacy, making it a complementary asset for the neighborhood, and helping the property find its highest and best use for the benefit of the community.

Art, education, and community describe aspects of the property’s contributions to Franklin in its recent past. Through art exhibitions, the historic Lee-Buckner Rosenwald School, natural gardens and educational experiences, Franklin Grove will keep these traditions alive.

Work on this intersection will be done through a public/private partnership between the City of Franklin and the Heritage Foundation. The Franklin Grove project may help expedite the original timeline of public improvements slated for the intersection. The improvements will make the intersection much safer than it is today, for both vehicles and pedestrians.

City noise ordinance guidelines will be enforced on the grounds. In addition to this, many sincere strides were made during the planning process to further manage noise:

  • In direct response to the neighbors’ feedback about previous outdoor music on the property, the Heritage Foundation agrees there will be no amplified music outdoors on the property.
  • The Hall size has been reduced from its original design and  has been purposely positioned to face inward toward the property rather than out toward neighbors.
  • The Oak Gardens (back gardens) will be an inward focused “walled” garden, with brick walls and ornamental planting surrounding the entire perimeter.
  • The interiors and exteriors of the Hall will be outfitted with sound-lock doors, triple-pane glass and acoustic paneling.

In the latest January 28, 2022 master plan version, there are 100 parking spaces allocated on the property, which exceeds what was on the property during O’More’s tenure on the property.  In this plan, parking will be surrounded by lush planting and will be screened from roads and neighbors. Additionally, an oval roundabout on the grounds will be created in order to easily facilitate trolley drop-off and ridesharing services that further limit on-site parking needs.

The March 2022 acquisition of the McConnell House building by the Heritage Foundation provides a new opportunity to generate and share revenues from the property across the nonprofit organization, including the proposed Franklin Grove Estate and Gardens project. Because of the opportunity created by the McConnell House building, the Foundation determined the new construction of a hall is not required to accomplish the vision of Franklin Grove. The Franklin Grove project will move forward with the current Franklin Innovation Center and the proposed art museum, natural gardens, educational programming, and historic Lee-Buckner Rosenwald School.

Franklin Grove will move through the rezoning and site development approval processes with the City of Franklin in 2022. The Heritage Foundation must also raise millions of dollars from individual, foundation and corporate donors in order to fund the project. If you are interested in financially supporting Franklin Grove, please complete the form on this page and join others helping the Franklin Grove.

Advocate: Just like when the community rallied around the reopening of The Franklin Theatre, Franklin Grove needs the community to help make this project become a reality. Let your elected representatives know you support Franklin Grove and tell your friends and neighbors as well. Lastly, sign up on this page to become a Franklin Grove Ambassador.

Donate: Donate online here and note Franklin Grove in the comment section, or complete the Comments Form below and check the “I’d like to know more about financially supporting Franklin Grove” box.

Stay Informed: Complete the email sign-up form on this page and get updates as they are available.

Sign-up to Get Email Updates About Franklin Grove


FRANKLIN GROVE ESTATE AND GARDENS IS ONE OF MANY PRESERVATION PROJECTS OF THE HERITAGE FOUNDATION OF WILLIAMSON COUNTY.

You can make a direct impact on the county’s future by helping to preserve its past. Monetary contributions make a critical difference: though our organization continuously works to generate needed operating funds through events, products, and fundraisers, donations make an important difference in the Foundation’s preservation efforts. To learn more about opportunities to financially support Franklin Grove, please email Melissa Houck at mhouck@williamsonheritage.org.

Thank you for your support!

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WE WELCOME YOUR COMMENTS. PLEASE COMPLETE THIS FORM TO SHARE YOUR INPUT WITH THE HERITAGE FOUNDATION OF WILLIAMSON COUNTY, TN.

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