The quiet town of Franklin, Tennessee, 20 minutes from the hustle and bustle of Nashville, teems with history and beautiful architecture. The National Trust for Historic Preservation has awarded its Great American Main Street Award to the 16-block area of Victorian architecture that makes up Franklin’s downtown.
The area’s history centers on the Civil War Battle of Franklin, which took place November 30, 1864. One of the bloodiest struggles of the war, 10,000 Federal and Confederate troops were killed during the campaign.
Several houses that played pivotal roles in the Battle of Franklin still stand around town. Built in 1826, Carnton Plantation with its wide, two-story front portico is a fine example of Southern architecture of the 19th century. Now a museum, the home served as a field hospital for Confederate troops during the Battle of Franklin.
The Carter House, c.1830, is a simple farmhouse near the battlefield. Before the battle Federal Brigadier General Jacob Cox commandeered it for his headquarters.
Still visible at the Lotz House, c.1855, are burn marks from a cannonball that struck it. The dark stains on the wood floors were caused by blood as, like Carnton, the Lotz House was used as a field hospital. The home is filled with period antiques and a rare collection of John James Audubon stuffed birds.
Tip: Admission to Carnton Plantation and the Carter House is $18 each, Lutz House is $12. The Value Ticket, $35, gives admission to the three houses.
Franklin on Foot offers a variety of guided walking and bike tours. During the Classic Franklin walking tour, knowledgeable guides relate the town’s history. The Scenic Franklin bike tour winds through historic neighborhoods and along the cycling path by the Harpeth River. The Civil War bicycle tour pedals to the sites of the Battle of Franklin and cemeteries.
The Louise G. Lynch Archives and Museum houses extensive exhibits outlining the history of Franklin and Williamson County. Firearms, swords, canteens and Federal and Confederate uniforms recovered after the Battle of Franklin are on display.
The McLemore House African-American Museum c.1880 was built by Harvey McLemore, a former slave who became a successful farmer. Owned by the family until 1997 when it was purchased by the African-American Heritage Society, the museum serves to preserve the heritage of African-American culture in Franklin.
Continuing on the Civil War theme is Magnolia House Bed & Breakfast. This craftsman style house was built in 1905 on land where the Battle of Franklin took place. The inn is cozy with four beautifully appointed guest rooms. The Carter and Lotz houses are within walking distance.
One of the Drury Plaza Hotel Franklin’s major amenities is its indoor pool. Ideal if traveling with children. Breakfast, soft drinks, popcorn and Internet are complimentary.
Dining and Nightlife
Gray’s on Main is Franklin’s place to see and be seen. Patrons dine on dishes such as fried chicken with truffle mac and chees on the first floor then sip libations while listening to live music one flight up.
At 55 South the menu selections range from seared ribeye to mahi mahi to traditional shrimp and grits.
JetBlue has flights to Nashville www.jetblue.com
Images of Carnton Plantation (top) and Carter House (middle) are courtesy of the Battle of Franklin Trust.