The Heritage Foundation of Williamson County has announced the new name of the former O’More College of Design campus will be Franklin Grove Estate & Gardens, paying homage to the property’s deep history.
“It is officially one month and a day since we formally closed on the purchase of this property from Belmont University. In only 28 days since that important milestone, we have researched, dreamed, brainstormed and relished over a new name for this magnificent place,” said Heritage Foundation CEO Bari Beasley in a release. “True to our mission, we felt it was not only the right thing to do but the only thing to do in reclaiming the heritage of this 5-acre campus – dating back to the 1830s.”
History of Name Franklin Grove
Heritage Foundation Director of Preservation Dr. Blake Wintory, Ph.D. and County Historian Rick Warwick heavily researched the property looking for something special to bring to the surface. In the Williamson County archives, everything started to come together with an advertisement, ca. 1834.
The advertisement described the Female Seminary at Franklin Grove as “Near the Town of Franklin” and offering “Female Education including…Needle-work on Muslin, Canvas, Bolting…Tambour, Lace-work, Embroidery on Satin and Velvet, Drawing, Painting on Paper and Velvet [and] Music.”
In 1829, the Rev. Canelm H. Hines and his wife Sarah purchased 30 acres of land from the estate of William Murfee. In December 1832, the couple began operating the Female Seminary. According to Warwick, Franklin Grove was the name of the Hines farm that extended along the west side of the Harpeth River and Leesburg Pike. This land included part of what was most recently O’More College of Design. It included the Hines family home, now the location of the ca. 1897 Berry (Fleming-Farrah) Mansion.
Rev. Hines is listed as a farmer in the 1850 Census; however, his son-in-law, James A. McNutt is listed as a teacher in the 1860 Census. County records suggest the school operated up until the Civil War began. After the Civil War, Sallie Hines McNutt returned to find a Freedmen’s School in her home. By August 1866, James McNutt reopened his school calling it Buena Vista English and Classical School.
Beasley added, “This is just the beginning of the latest chapter in modern history for a campus rich with educational ties. The property started as an all-female school, 30 years later became home to a historically African-American school in 1866 during Reconstruction and later an all-boys school, 100 years after became a college for design under Eloise O’More; and now, over 150 years after the Female Seminary at Franklin Grove, our 30-year-old Heritage Classroom program will take on a new life, educating Williamson County public, private and homeschooled students on the inclusive stories of our local history at this beautiful site.”
Heritage Foundation plans to restore and rehabilitate the five-acre site into a multi-use campus with new educational offerings, publicly displayed collections, beautiful gardens, unique private event space, and Williamson, Inc. will create the Idea Center, an innovation and entrepreneurship hub in the Victorian mansion on the property.
To support the Franklin Grove project with a leadership gift, please contact CEO Bari Beasley at [email protected].