The City of Franklin’s Board of Mayor and Aldermen have approved a contract for the Heritage Foundation of Franklin & Williamson County to purchase the building known as the “old, old jail” on Bridge Street, with a goal of restoring it to its ca. 1941 Art Deco appearance and using it as office space.
The contract is contingent upon the findings of a Phase II environmental study to be conducted within the next 60 days. The first phase revealed some potential ground contamination bordering the property—to be expected in an area that has housed auto repair and junkyard lots for decades—but nothing insurmountable, Foundation officials said.
“This building has been at the top of downtown Franklin’s most endangered list for years, and this is one of the key reasons why the Heritage Foundation exists: we restore old buildings that others might think would be better off torn down,” said Cyril Stewart, the Foundation’s Board President. “That was certainly the case with the Franklin Theatre, but with that project under our belt we feel that we are well positioned to take this on.”
Stewart, who is a licensed architect, says he believes the building is structurally sound, and that they expect to deal with some lead paint and limited asbestos abatement as part of the environmental remediation. The opportunity was too good to pass up, he says.
“With our current home at the Historic Five Points Post Office being restored by FirstBank soon, this is a chance to save two historic treasures while creating an office space that will serve the Heritage Foundation well into the future,” Stewart explained. “And with major development plans on the horizon for the Bridge Street corridor, we believe we can be a part of the revitalization of the entire north side of downtown Franklin.”
While the Foundation will purchase the property for $25,000, that number represents a small percentage of the restoration cost. The environmental impact study alone is expected to cost $15,000, before remediation. Heritage Foundation Executive Director Mary Pearce says she expects the total project cost to be around $1.5 million.
“It’s a daunting task that will take an entire community to pull off, but this is our mission… This is an integral part what we do,” Pearce said. “Together, we’ll find a way to get it done, and it will enhance the legacy of downtown Franklin for generations to come.”
Since 1968, the not-for-profit Heritage Foundation’s mission has been to protect and preserve the architectural, geographic and cultural heritage of Franklin and Williamson County, and to promote the ongoing economic revitalization of downtown Franklin in the context of historic preservation. To learn more, visit www.historicfranklin.com.