The Lee-Buckner schoolhouse was built in Spring Hill (3041 Duplex Road) in 1925 and closed in 1965, following the Civil Rights Movement and the integration of area public schools.
According to the National Trust for Historic Preservation, Rosenwald schools were the result of a 1912 partnership between ex-slave and Tuskegee Institute graduate, Booker T. Washington and Julius Rosenwald, CEO of Sears, Roebuck and Company. However, these structures are now considered one of the most endangered historic sites in the country. It is believed that the Lee-Buckner schoolhouse is the last unrestored Rosenwald school in both Williamson and Davidson counties.
Pending all City of Franklin approvals, the Heritage Foundation intends to move the schoolhouse from its current site in Spring Hill, which may be sold to developers, to the Franklin Grove Estate & Gardens campus in downtown Franklin.
The organization plans to restore and rehabilitate the structure to use it as a learning lab for children and the hub for its Heritage Classroom program. In addition, the Foundation, along with African American leaders in the community, have worked with a renowned oral historian, Sheree Scarborough, to conduct interviews with locals who attended the school or who had family members attend the school.
This work will be the foundation of an exhibit, showcasing the African American history of Williamson County, the historical significance of Rosenwald schools and the Baines’ family story. Upon completion of the project, the schoolhouse will be open to the public as part of the Franklin Grove Estate & Gardens experience.
The Heritage Foundation of Williamson County, TN is accepting emails of interest from qualified architecture and engineering firms to receive the RFP for the Lee-Buckner Rosenwald schoolhouse as well as the larger Franklin Grove Estate & Gardens restoration and rehabilitation projects.
Those interested should email Director of Special Projects & Campus Planning Shannon Lapsley at slapsley@williamsonheritage.
About Franklin Grove Estate & Gardens
The former site of O’More College of Design in downtown Franklin (423 S. Margin Street), Franklin Grove Estate & Gardens is a five-acre site, home to two historic mansion and several non-contributing out-buildings. The Heritage Foundation plans to restore and rehabilitate the mansions – making the 1865-era anchor of the property into space for publicly displayed historical and art collections and the Victorian-era mansion, recently named the Calvin LeHew Mansion, into Williamson, Inc.’s new Center for Innovation, an idea and entrepreneurship center. In addition, the Foundation envisions several new event spaces on the property, beautiful and extensive gardens and more.