The Heritage Foundation of Williamson County has announced plans to establish The History & Culture Center of Williamson County in the former McConnell House building in Downtown Franklin. The historic building will be transformed into Williamson County’s first state-of-the-art, interactive exhibition space dedicated to telling its comprehensive countywide history.
Housed within a National Register of Historic Places building dating back to 1905, The History & Culture Center will honor and share stories of the people, places, and events that comprise the fabric of our community today and influence our region and nation by stewarding, interpreting, and exhibiting artifacts and immersive narratives related to the social, economic, and cultural history of Williamson County. Exhibition concepts are not finalized at this time but will endeavor to support a mix of consistent and rotating experiences that may include explorations of Native Americans, African Americans, pioneer families, Revolutionary and Civil War periods, and the evolution of the county over generations. The Heritage Foundation plans to utilize the building to host educational events for the community such as local and national speakers, workshops, field trips, and symposiums. In order to sustain The Center and Foundation’s nonprofit endeavors, the restored, 6,000-square-foot, three-story building with brick and hardwood detail will be accessible to the community for private event use.
“Today is a landmark day in the 55-year history of the Heritage Foundation of Williamson County,” stated Bari Beasley, president & CEO of the Heritage Foundation of Williamson County. “The History & Culture Center becomes our fourth division alongside The Franklin Theatre, Downtown Franklin Association, and Franklin Grove Estate & Gardens. It is another shining example of preserving a historic place and ensuring that it will benefit the entire community for generations to come.”
The anticipated timeline for The Center is for it to be available for private event rental starting in July this year, with historic exhibition experiences to open in Spring or Summer of 2023. For more information visit www.WilliamsonHistoryCenter.org.
About the Building
The property originally housed White’s Tavern & Inn which circa 1803. It welcomed locals and travelers including famous individuals such as Andrew Jackson, and James K. Polk, Felix Gundy who was a Congressman, U.S. Senator and the U.S. Attorney General during the Martin Van Buren administration, in addition to U.S. Senator Thomas Hart Benton. Williamson County purchased the property, and in its place constructed a three-story brick jail that Nashville architect Clarence K. Colley built and opened in 1905. By 1941 the jail was considered antiquated, and next door the Old, Old Jail was built (now called the LeHew-Magid Big House for Preservation).
In 1972, it was added to the National Register of Historic Places. In 1980, the Tennessee Historical Commission recognized the building’s historic renovations as a distinctive method of adaptive reuse and awarded it a Certificate of Merit. Then from the 1980s until recently, the building had been home to a community center, the Matrix Enterprises cable TV company, Battle Ground Brewery, Monell’s Restaurant, and the McConnell House event venue and catering headquarters.