The historical and beautiful Harlinsdale Farm will be the home to a new multi-purpose arena, an addition that will draw locals, tourists and most importantly horses to the farm. See a rendering of the new arena above.
Harlinsdale Farm, located just north of downtown Franklin, is steeped in history. It was a Civil War battle site during the Army of Tennessee’s retreat from Nashville and saw heavy fighting between the Confederate infantry and Federal calvary.
Over 80 years ago, W.W. Harlin established Harlinsdale Farm and it became an integral part of the Tennessee Walking Horse industry and home to the prize stallion Midnight Sun—the first repeat World Champion horse.
In 2004, the Harlin family sold their 200-acre farm to the City of Franklin. The City began reinventing the property, with the idea that it would serve as a park, as well as, a museum of sorts, highlighting the properties’ 16 structures, which include horse stables, breeding barns, storage barns, the existing homestead and various outbuildings.
Although completion of all these projects would take years, the farm opened to the public shortly after the sale as a passive park.
One of the goals the City of Franklin has for Harlinsdale Farm is the return of horses to the land and that dream is becoming more of a reality. The City of Franklin Planning Commission has granted final approval to Friends of Franklin Parks, LLC to construct a multi-purpose arena on five acres of the farm. After working on this project for more than two years, construction of this arena is slated to begin in September.
“The multi-purpose arena will be 300 feet long and 150 feet wide (wider than a football field and the same length). We plan for horse events and other events such as shows and fundraisers,” said Dr. Monty McInturff, president of Friends of Franklin Parks and owner of the Tennessee Equine Hospital.
The arena will take advantage of the property’s natural land contours to include earthen berm seating while adding electrical service, judging stands, a performance stage and a scoreboard to facilitate use by clubs, non-profits and private rental events. The City of Franklin is also adding restroom facilities to the site, which will comprise about five acres within the 200-acre park.
“It’s a place to bring us all together to enjoy this historic site. Whether you are a horse lover or not, you can be a part of this legacy. Our horse history is over 200 years old and encompasses many breeds of horses from Thoroughbred, Standardbreds, Arabians, to the Tennessee Walking horse. Having this complex so close to our downtown will continue to make Franklin a special place,” added McInturff.
Kiser + Vogrin Design are leading the land use planning; Barge, Waggoner, Sumner and Cannon re directing the engineering; and Atlanta-based Historical Concepts is handling architecture and design. Construction bids have been accepted, and the organization plans to announce the winning contractor in the next few weeks.
This project will cost $625,000. Franklin Tomorrow, in conjunction with Friends of Franklin Parks has already raised nearly two-thirds of the total cost, with the hopes that their annual Raise the Roofs event, benefiting Harlinsdale Farm, will help them reach their goal.
This year’s Third Annual Raise the Roofs, to be held on Saturday, September 13, will serve as the groundbreaking celebration for the multi-purpose arena.
“We want everyone to be a Friend of Franklin Parks and feel the connection to Harlinsdale Park.,” said Dr. McInturff. “The City of Franklin has 17 parks that are only 50% built out and our role as public citizens is to help in this process.”
To learn more or to get involved, visit friendsoffranklinparks.org or call (615) 794-0998.
Tickets are on sale for Raise the Roofs now. To purchase, Tickets are $75 per person or patrons may donate an additional $25 and receive special recognition. Sponsorship opportunities exist or direct financial or in-kind services donations are also being accepted. Contact Friends of Franklin Parks Executive Director Mindy Tate at (615) 794-0998 for more information.