Driving along the streets of downtown Franklin is a tour of the major architectural styles of the 19th and early 20th centuries.
Boxy Italianates, clean-cut Georgians and scalloped Victorians offer a window into the trends of the city’s earlier residents.
The fact that these houses are still standing is a testament to history-minded homeowners who have restored and protected the buildings.
Local preservationists want to help recognize that dedication to the charm and tradition of the city.
“It’s a good way to not only raise the profile of Franklin Heritage in the town,” said Danny Causey, salvage and marketing coordinator for the organization. “Everyone knows the Artcraft, but we do a lot of other things. Our goal is to beautify the town as a whole.”
Franklin Heritage Inc. has started awarding monthly accolades to those who have lovingly maintained these historic structures. The Community Pride awards are not fancy — a plaque to keep in their homes and a sign that goes in the front yard.
But organizers hope the program encourages more owners of historic homes to bring out the inherent beauty of their properties, while spotlighting those who have put in the hours of work ensuring their old homes stay standing.
“I was excited to be chosen, because it’s not my work but the beauty of the house that won,” said John Shafer, a Franklin homeowner and one of August’s award winners. “It’s excellent program because it recognizes the work of the residents. It’s not easy to maintain a historic home.”
The program was initiated by Franklin Heritage board member Mike Hill, who had seen a similar program in place when he lived in the St. Louis area.
He presented it to the board as a way to help foster friendly competition among downtown homeowners, as well as highlighting some of the unique houses.
“You know how it is — if you see your neighbor get something, you wonder why. And maybe it makes you want to do something to your property,” Causey said.
Franklin Heritage already gives out awards for historic preservation each year. But this program would serve as a year-round reminder.
The organization presented its first pair of awards in June and has given out two each month ever since. The winners are chosen by Franklin Heritage committee, with emphasis placed on beautifying both the home and their gardens, yard and grounds around it.
“Usually we’re just focused on historic houses, but this award is for overall, taking the home and the property into account,” Causey said. “It’s a general beauty award for the landscaping, the upkeep and the preservation of the home.”
Homes are nominated by Franklin Heritage members, then winners were voted on by the group.
For the winners, having a property that’s been recognized as an source of community pride is a shock.
Many haven’t learned that they have won until Causey or another Franklin Heritage volunteer knocks on the door to inform them. Sometimes, they pull into their driveways to find the sign already gracing their yard.
“There are so many deserving properties in Franklin,” said Mike Miller, who won the award with his wife, Carol, in August. “To get it is really an honor. It was such a surprise.”
While the first six honorees have been homeowners, organizers plan to expand the awards to commercial buildings and possibly churches moving forward.
Despite the fact that its in its infancy, those involved think it will have a impact continuing the progress that’s been made in the downtown area.
“People are buying these houses and doing a lot with them,” said Nancy Collins, a winner in July with her husband, Ron. “As they fix up downtown Franklin and the different areas and new businesses come to town, I’m really happy that I live in downtown Franklin in this house.”
What: A monthly recognition to homeowners in Franklin for overall home beauty, including both the house itself and the landscaping.
Who: Given by Franklin Heritage, a nonprofit group dedicated to preserving the city’s architectural history and tradition.
How chosen: Homeowners are nominated and voted on by a committee of Franklin Heritage members
What do they win: Winners are recognized with a yard sign and a framed award.
597 W. Jefferson St.
Owner: Victoria Vennetti
597 E. King St.
Owners: Robin and Robin Hawhee
60 N. Water St.
Owners: Ron and Nancy Collins
368 Yandes St.
Owner: Greg Quagliara
248 E. Madison St.
Owners: Mike and Carol Miller
644 N. Walnut St.
Owner: John Shafer
In the coming weeks, the Daily Journal will continue to feature winners of the Community Pride Award. Check back to go inside some of Franklin’s most stunning historic homes.