Just south of Nashville, you'll find the small town of Franklin, named one of "The South's Best Small Towns" and "The South's Prettiest Towns" by Southern Living. At one time, Franklin had a thriving public square and elaborate Victorian mansions. Today, that public square is an exceptionally well-preserved, vibrant downtown core.
How about some more fun facts about Franklin? The town also offers several historic Civil War-era sites, an abundance of shopping and open green spaces, an incredible live music scene, and is home to several major corporate headquarters.
CoolSprings Galleria Serves as the Largest Employer in Franklin
In a city with several large companies in the healthcare sector and where many corporations have chosen to base their headquarters, Franklin's largest employer may come as somewhat of a surprise. CoolSprings Galleria, the city's 1.1-million-square-foot shopping mall, employs over 3,500 people.
The mall opened in 1991 and features about 165 retail stores with four anchors: Macy's, Dillard's, Belk, and JC Penney. There's also a large food court with dozens of options ranging from fast-food chain restaurants to upscale steakhouses, plus Kings Dining & Entertainment, featuring a bowling alley, billiards, and other gaming options. Kings also has indoor and outdoor dining options and becomes a 21-and-up establishment after 10 p.m.
CoolSprings Galleria is conveniently located just off I-65 and is open daily throughout the year, except on most major holidays. Kings Dining & Entertainment maintains separate hours from the mall.
Franklin's Main Street Is a Great American Main Street
Initially, Franklin may seem like a quaint, almost sleepy little town. But every year, more than one million visitors experience historic Main Street. In 2016 alone, nearly 1.5 million people came to stroll Main Street to shop, dine, and marvel at the historic architecture.
The National Trust for Historic Preservation designated Franklin's Main Street a Great American Main Street in 1995. Only five other places received this prestigious designation that same year.
The Great American Main Street award is given to communities that utilize the "Main Street Approach," a revitalization initiative focused on four main points of transformation: economic vitality, design, promotion, and organization.
Franklin's historic Main Street features dozens of unique shops, galleries, cafes, and eateries, but the architecture alone is worth a visit. Many of Main Street's buildings have been exceptionally well preserved, such as the original post office, built in 1924, and the beloved Franklin Theatre.
The Franklin Theatre Was the First Air-Conditioned Building in Town
Widely considered the crown jewel of historic Main Street, The Franklin Theatre was built in 1938 as a movie theater. It was the first building in the city to have air conditioning, so unsurprisingly, the construction made headlines nationwide. The Franklin Theatre has become a popular live music and performing arts venue.
Mainly because the theatre was built nearly a century ago, it has just 322 seats for the audience. That doesn't stop headlining musical acts, including Sheryl Crow and Vince Gill, from coming to The Franklin Theatre, and visitors consistently rave about the intimate experience.
In 2007, The Franklin Theatre closed as the world demanded more modern mega-theaters. The non-profit preservation group Heritage Foundation of Williamson County stepped in to preserve the heart of the historic downtown and rehabilitated the theatre into a state-of-the-art facility over the next three years. Today, visitors can see new movies and attend concerts at The Franklin Theatre.
You Can Drive Through 10,0000 Years of History
Whether you've recently moved to Franklin or you're just visiting, the Natchez Trace Parkway is a must-see. This 444-mile route spans from Natchez, Mississippi, to Nashville and is designated as a National Park Service National Scenic Byway and an "All American Road" (one of only six in the country!). "The Trace" closely follows the route that Native Americans and tradesmen took over the course of tens of thousands of years.
The double-arched bridge on the trace is widely considered the trip's highlight. In addition to driving it, the path can be explored by hiking, biking, riding horseback, or camping nearby. It's also an excellent place to watch the sunset, and one of the best spots is just a few miles west of downtown Franklin, where you can capture the bridge in that coveted Golden Hour glow.
Franklin Was Almost Called Marthasville
While Marthasville doesn't roll off the tongue quite as smoothly as Franklin, that was, in fact, the city's intended name. The Martha behind Marthasville was the wife of Franklin's founder, Abram Maury. Martha almost certainly found the gesture thoughtful and romantic, but she insisted that the city instead be called Franklin in honor of Benjamin Franklin.
Its name isn't the only fun fact about Franklin's early history. The entire town (and Williamson County, for that matter) was supposed to be in North Carolina, not Tennessee. In those early days, settlers quickly grew from just a few hundred people to a few thousand. A "land grab" ensued, with people buying and selling it quickly around what is now the city of Nashville. North Carolina essentially gave Tennessee to the federal government in 1790 as part of the Southwest Territory, and Tennessee didn't gain statehood until 1796.
Abram Maury arrived in the area in 1797 with plans to establish Marthasville on 109 of his 640 acres. He drew up plans for 16 square blocks surrounding a main public square, with 192 half-acre lots total on the blocks. About 25% of those lots had sold by 1800 for $10 each. Maury's plans still stand in Franklin today, although the town's name changed.
Franklin Is Full of Surprises
Whatever brings you to this great place, you'll find no shortage of things to do and see in Franklin, not to mention experience Southern charm. The city's unique mixture of historical sites and modern buildings and amenities make for an unforgettable time, whether you're in town visiting or relocating.
Does Franklin sound like the perfect place to live? Contact The Ashton Real Estate Group of RE/MAX Advantage with Nashville's MLS at (615) 603-3602 to get in touch with Franklin real estate agents who can help you find the ideal Franklin home.
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