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Why Historic Preservation?

What do you love most about Williamson County? Charming downtowns and unique local businesses? Rolling pastures and scenic green space? Historic homes and public buildings? Street festivals and events that showcase our community? These are just a few of the things that make Williamson County such a great place to live and visit. And they didn’t happen by accident.

Chances are, the Heritage Foundation of Williamson County played a role in creating many of things you love most about the place you call home. We are the only nonprofit organization dedicated to protecting and preserving the architectural, geographical and cultural resources across all of Williamson County, and our work is integral to the quality of life in our special corner of the world.

The Heritage Foundation Actively Works to Preserve the Stories and Spaces of Williamson County Families in Three Main Areas:

Public Preservation

For over 50 years, the Heritage Foundation has helped save some 40 properties with compelling stories, including Carnton, the Franklin Theatre, Lotz House, and the Dan German Hospital. Many of these historic treasures would be gone forever without the intervention of the Heritage Foundation.

Preservation is often a community effort and has many facets. Public preservation includes but is not limited to maintaining an accurate inventory of historic sites in Williamson County, working with the City of Franklin’s Historic Zoning Commission, advocating for streetscape, listing properties on the National Register of Historic Places, and participating in the Historic Preservation Plan for cities within Williamson County.

Private Preservation

With its vibrant history, Williamson County has numerous homes, buildings and green areas worth sharing with future generations. Our organization supports local government and other organizations like the Land Trust for Tennessee when property owners are interested in placing conservation easements on their land to forever protect it from development. More than 10,000 acres in Williamson County, including 67 acres on Roper’s Knob, have been placed under conservation easements.

With our historian, Rick Warwick, we help individuals research and preserve their family history. We work closely with other historic preservation organizations such as Franklin’s Charge and the African-American Heritage Society.

Main Street Program

The Downtown Franklin Association (DFA) is an award winning and nationally accredited Main Street Program since 1984. The DFA collaborates with all Main Street stakeholders, including the city, the county, building owners, and guests to be “America’s Favorite Main Street.” Franklin’s downtown is a rich resource and we proudly produce and promote community events that show it at its very best, including Main Street Festival, Pumpkinfest and Dickens of a Christmas.

How Do We Preserve?

As one of the nation’s most respected historic preservation non-profits, the Heritage Foundation of Williamson County, TN leads the way through research and dissemination of local history, architectural preservation, restoration and rehabilitation, advocacy or important local and national preservation and conservation issues.


Our research focuses on documenting and understanding the historic resources within the cultural landscape of Williamson County. We believe exhaustive research is the foundation of meaningful and transparent public programs, tours, interpretive exhibits and panels and scholarly writing, such as National Register nominations and other monographs.


Our in-house team, partners and supporters consist of preservationists, conservators, historians, architects and carpenters who lead the way in the investigation, rehabilitation, and restoration of all our historic properties. Our team analyzes, documents, researches and examines physical evidence contained within our historic buildings and structures. Our overall goal is to fully represent the architectural landscape be it at the LeHew Magid Big House for Historic Preservation (the Old, Old Jail), the historic McPhail Office (home of the Downtown Franklin Association), The Franklin Theatre, Franklin Grove Estate & Gardens or historic Main Street in Franklin.


The Heritage Foundation of Williamson County is a preservation advocacy organization dedicated to the preservation of our places and all people, dating from its earliest origins to the present. We use our resources to keep history alive and to help people develop a better understanding of Williamson County and establish an appreciation for historic preservation. 

By serving as an institutional role model for the continued commitment and stewardship of Williamson County’s history, we utilize our preservation philosophy to education, raise awareness of all our history, share our knowledge and leave a lasting legacy for future generations by promoting a greater involvement on the part of our people and our communities in the preservation of our collective past.

One of the Heritage Foundation’s primary goals is the preservation of our historic, cultural, and natural resources. We save the places that matter and tell the stories of all people connected to places. Valuing our resources, including historic buildings, structures, archeological sites, objects, and landscapes, we recognize they all may have different needs and approaches for best practices in preservation.