Preservation is indelibly linked to placemaking in communities and historic landscapes, highlighting what makes the power of a place so uniquely special. For decades, preservationists primarily focused on the built environment and its significance to architectural integrity and singular historic events. As practicing preservationists and preservation organizations began to push back against myopic criteria, they argued for a sharper lens on the history of people to promote the underrepresented, silenced stories of the past, to fully document, save, and shield all architectural significant styles and structures and actively advocate for the protection of our collective intangible heritage.

The Heritage Foundation of Williamson County is one of the most active preservation advocacy organizations in the state of Tennessee. For fifty-three years (and counting!) we have boundless preservation stories and countless “passionate people who love preservation” continuing to support our efforts to save places that matter. But, within saving places, it is the stories, our collective stories, that afford us an opportunity at our historic properties to find a deeper relevance and a renewed commitment to authentic storytelling.


The Franklin Theatre

The Franklin Theatre

As the United States grappled with the Great Depression,The Franklin Theatre opened on Main Street in 1937. Its first movie Night Must Fall, featured Robert Montgomery and Rosalind Russell. Admission was 10 cents for children and 25 cents for adults. Built during the years of segregation, African Americans entered in through a separate doorway and ascended a dark staircase to view movies from the balcony.

Today, the separate exterior entrance remains visible, a historic reminder of the power of place. Memorably known as the place of “first kisses,” it is also known for its powerful preservation story. Saved by the Heritage Foundation in 2008, the theater reopened in 2011, solidifying its place on Main Street as a community magnet of the past, present and future.


Franklin Grove Estate and Gardens






In 2019, the Heritage Foundation took on its most ambitious preservation project to date – Franklin Grove Estate and Gardens. This five-acre landscape includes two 19th century historic homes and smokehouse. One of the most historically significant elements at Franklin Grove will be the inclusion of the Lee-Buckner School. Currently located in Spring Hill, Tennessee, the school is the only remaining Rosenwald School in Williamson County.

In 1927, the Lee-Buckner School opened its doors, educating African American children in the Duplex area of the county, making it one of 5,000 Rosenwald schools built throughout the rural South. As the school outgrew its space, the lower grades met at the local church until an addition (1942) could accommodate all grades in the same building.

Plans for the Lee-Buckner school include removal from its current location to Franklin Grove, a full restoration, and planned educational programming. Through our archeological surveys, historic research, architectural investigation, and our current and future collections, will serve the richly diverse stories that remain culturally relevant nearly two hundred years later. With additional plans to fully rehabilitate the historic homes and create a landscape for publicly displayed works of art and dedicated spaces for restored historic gardens, the voices of the past will speak through our commitment to embracive history.


The Old Old Jail – LeHew Magid Big House for Historic Preservation






The Old, Old Jail was Williamson County’s jail from 1941 to 1970. From the 1970s into the late 2000s, the jail was used as an employment office, the county archives, and even the book storage for the school system. After falling into disrepair, the Heritage Foundation purchased the building in 2013 with plans to fully restore it into their first permanent offices. Today, it serves as the LeHew Magid Big House for Historic Preservation. From its time as a jail to its adaptive reuse as the Heritage Foundation offices, everything curated and created at the Old, Old Jail contains a story.

Authentic stories contain great power, transporting us to new places and heightened our emotions. As we #keepitgoing during this time of change and transition, we know opportunities lie ahead for us as we seek new avenues of placemaking and storytelling. Very soon, we plan to launch our new virtual tours of our historic properties, allowing viewers to get a behind the scenes look at our preservation efforts. Embedded pop-up videos, from our team of historians and preservationists, will provide a holistic approach to storytelling in our virtual tours. Preservation efforts and preservation stories are never complete.  While we are not able to have everyone visit us at our properties at this time, our historic properties will always serve as community centers, anchored in our core mission and vision of bringing people together to save places and stories that matter.

If you would like to help keep our preservation efforts going, you can become a member, donate or volunteer with us!