COTTON GIN HOUSE
The “Blue House,” often called the “Cotton Gin House” as part of a major battlefield reclamation project, was originally built on Columbia Avenue just north of the Carter House sometime after the Civil War. When plans called for the construction of Franklin High School on the site in 1926, the house was moved a short distance to its current location at 109 Cleburne Ave. That parcel of land claimed its own share of history as the site of the Carter cotton gin where some of the bloodiest fighting occurred during the Battle of Franklin, and the house adopted the name of that original structure to become known as the Cotton Gin House.
In 1996 the house went up for sale, and spurred largely by a recent threat of development on other key land relating to the Battle of Franklin, the Heritage Foundation purchased the home to keep the property from falling victim to yet more development on battlefield land. The Heritage Foundation has leased the property ever since – most recently to local attorney John Malizo who has used it as office space for a dozen years – and the loan on the house has been paid off
Fast forward to 2005, when 11 local organizations including the Heritage Foundation joined forces with Franklin’s Charge, a group whose mission includes reclaiming the Battle of Franklin battlefield. The group identified roughly 10 acres surrounding the Cotton Gin House as land that must be reclaimed and has been raising funds and purchasing property with the intent of creating Carter’s Hill Park in time for the sesquicentennial of the Battle of Franklin on November 30, 2014. That goal has been realized with the assistance of both local and national partners and all the property is either owned by Franklin’s Charge or other preservation-minded owners, such as the Heritage Foundation and the Civil War Preservation Trust.
To help you better understand its historical significance, and why we have put so much effort into preserving the structure, we put together a little timeline (which we gleaned from Historian Rick Warwick) here:
- The Blue House is a veteran of moves and movers.It’s ownership dates back to a Mrs. Sykes, who owned the home during the Civil War when it stood on the corner of Columbia Avenue and Fowlkes Street.
- After the war, it was sold to Samuel Mosley, who added on to the front of the house, nearly doubling its size.
- The city of Franklin bought the house and the property from Mr. Mosley to build Franklin High School in its place, which later burned down in 1956. Mrs. Robbie Hunter bought the house from the city and had it moved to 109 Cleburne Street before the city had a chance to tear it down.
- The lot at 109 Cleburne Street also has a unique history.Long before the Blue House stood there, the lot housed the Carter Cotton Gin. During the Civil War’s Battle of Franklin, soldiers wrote about seeing the cotton gin in the midst of the fighting, noting it was a sort of epicenter for the battle.
- The city later built the original Battle Ground Academy High School on the lot where the cotton gin once stood. The school burned down in 1902, and the lot sat empty until the arrival of the Blue House in either 1925 or 1926.
- Now the Blue House is in the midst of another move, this time to Giles County. With the front part of the Blue House gone, Mr. Mosley’s addition is noticeable by the presence of Civil War era, handmade nails holding the walls together. The front of the house contains newer nails.
- The third move was prompted by plans to build a park on the site where the Battle of Franklin broke out on November 30, 1864. The park will be called Carter’s Hill Park after the Carter family who owned the property at the time.