No place like historic homes

Anyone who’s ever wanted to poke through some of Franklin’s most notable historic homes will have their chance this weekend.

Beautifully restored Victorian homes and sturdy cottages from the early 20th century will be open to curious onlookers.

You can check out the newly refurbished former city hall building, stay abreast of the most recent work at the Historic Artcraft Theatre and see the initial stages of work to transform the Varynit Garment Factory into a reception hall.

Franklin’s Historic Home Tour has become an every-other-year tradition for the preservationist set in Johnson County. Organized by Franklin Heritage, it celebrates local residents and their commitment to the city’s unique architectural history, while getting ideas for their own improvement projects.

“You’ll get a chance to see almost every type of architecture that Franklin has to offer, everything from a modern style decorating to primitive antiques,” said Danny Causey, director of architectural salvage for Franklin Heritage. “Maybe they can get their own inspiration on the tour.”

The Historic Home Tour has been a tradition and fundraiser for Franklin Heritage since the early 1980s. As the preservation group started its work saving the city’s unique homes and buildings, they thought a home tour would be a natural part of sharing its mission with the public.

At one time, Franklin’s nickname was “the City of Homes,” due to its impressive collection of houses done in Victorian, Italianate and other noted historic styles.

“We just have such a great variety of homes and architectural styles,” Causey said.

The last time the tour was conducted, more than 700 people took part.

Most years, the event is focused on one area of the city. This time, organizers decided to super-size the event.

Three distinct neighborhoods will be featured. A majority of the homes are within walking distance of each other, and with nice weather will make for a pleasant walking tour of downtown Franklin.

On the historic neighborhood of Martin Place, four homes will be included on the tour. Though all of homes were built in the Victorian era, each brings different architectural elements to the forefront.

Neighboring homes on Walnut Street will be included in the tour, as will a pair of houses near Province Park. The furthest property on the tour is the historic farmhouse of Darrell and Betsy Dusold in the Needham area.

Added on to that will be some of the large-scale preservation projects going on, such as the garment factory being redone by Bemis Group, and the former city hall building.

“We had some opportunities to showcase some buildings that aren’t typical, such as the garment factory and city hall,” Causey said. “Once we got a few different properties, we realized that even though these properties were kind of spread out, there was so much intrigue with them.”

Proceeds from the tour, which costs $15 for adults and $10 for children 12 and under, will help support Franklin Heritage as it continues to preserve the important structures throughout the city, Causey said.

Two of its most recent projects — the Artcraft’s “green room” bungalow used as an event space for the theater, and Madison Street Salvage — will be part of the event.

“The tour really shows off Franklin and promotes the city in general,” Causey said. “We’ve seen people move into the city after going on the home tour and seeing the kind of historic homes we have.”

If you go

Historic Home Tour

When: 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. today and 1 to 5 p.m. Sunday

Where: Locations throughout Franklin

What: A self-guided tour through some of Franklin’s renovated and restored historic homes and buildings.

Tickets: $15 for adults, $10 for children 12 and under.

Where to get tickets: Tickets are good for both days of the tour. Order online at or at the theater box office, 57 N. Main St., Franklin.

Participating homeowners and homes:

  • Doug and Amy Heavilin, 14 Martin Place
  • JD and Julie Mendez, 18 Martin Place
  • Patrycja Zygmunt and Leonardo Alcaraz, 11 Martin Place
  • Chad and Lori Prince, 60 Martin Place
  • Tom and Diane Strack, 179 S. Home Ave.
  • Todd and Sally Eck, 151 S. Home Ave.
  • John Shafer, 644 N. Walnut St.
  • Ruby Kohler and Zach DeWitt Home, 654 N. Walnut St.
  • Darrell and Betsy Dusold, 6484 E. 350N
  • Old City Hall, 55 W. Madison St.
  • Varynit Garment Factory, 101 E. Wayne St.
  • Hendricks Log Cabin, 135 N. Main St.
  • Historic Artcraft Theatre, 57 N. Main St.
  • Arcraft Green Room Bungalow, 49 E. Madison St.
  • Madison Street Salvage, 350 E. Madison St.


Ryan Trares is a reporter for the Daily Journal. He can be reached at or 317-736-2727.