When the staff and faculty at O’More College of Design returned to campus in January, they found a renewed energy vibrating through the downtown Franklin grounds — nearly 70 students from the O’More School of Interior Design were now back on campus after nine years of working from studio space in the Factory at Franklin.
Since February 2014, the interior design school deans and students have led the renovation of Fleming-Farrar Hall as their permanent home, which includes both classroom and studio space. The ca. 1890 large-scale mansion is the second-oldest building on campus and holds historical significance: it was designed by Hugh Cathcart Thompson, one of Tennessee’s earliest and best-known architects, in the Romanesque Revival style with Eastlake and High Queen Ann influences.
The O’More School of Interior Design is inviting the public to celebrate its new home, and see the fruits of its labor, during an open house on Friday, Feb. 27 from 5 to 7 p.m. Participants will enjoy informal tours and the opportunity to interact with the instructors and students who helped redesign the space. The evening event is free, and cocktails and desserts will be provided.
“One of the college’s defining characteristics is its inspiring learning environment: our campus and class sizes promote departmental collaboration, influential mentorships, and stronger relationships among students,” said Rebecca Stilwell, O’More president. “It just made sense to move a third of our students back to our hub of creativity, and the Hall was the most underutilized building.”
Rebecca Andrews, Dean of the School of Interior Design, says the renovation was a synergistic effort among professors, students and administrators. A committee–which included Interior Design Deans Andrews and Kelly Gore, as well as several students and instructor Kim Creed–transformed a “compartmentalized, dark” space into a facility that promotes natural light and connectivity and fosters better communication among students and faculty.
Andrews says O’More alumni played a big role in the process, too: the college largely pulled from funds raised by the 2013 and 2014 O’More Alumni Show House exhibitions, presented as part of Traditional Home magazine’s national tour circuit. Student and alumni connections also contributed to furniture and lighting donations by industry leaders.
“This was truly a collaborative project, from the faculty and teachers’ donation of knowledge and resources to the students’ talent and time,” Andrews said. “The administration trusted our vision to fuse the historical significance with a modern aesthetic, and we are appreciative that the hard work and professional success of our esteemed alumni contributed to finishing this initiative.”
The Fleming-Farrar Hall renovation was executed by O’More Facilities Manager Kirk Mangrum, who was assisted by design student Chris Munn. The pair, under the school’s supervision, took great care to preserve the bones and details of the space that make it so stunning.
“Kirk and Chris uncovered original details in such a way that highlighted those historic flourishes that previously went unnoticed. They worked non-stop for a year on this project, even working through Christmas break to get us into the space,” Andrews said. “They invested pride and passion in this process, and I believe people will be fascinated by aspects that have come alive here.”
For more information about the School of Interior Design or the event, go to www.omorecollege.edu.