The Pizza Place That Was A Bank

Williamson County Bank
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This is the fourth post in our weekly series looking back at the history of Williamson County. Last week, we looked at the Old, Old Jail. Click the links above to read our previous stories.

Even if you haven’t been to Mellow Mushroom in downtown Franklin, you probably know where it is. Right on the square.

What you might not know, even if you have eaten there a few times, is that the building has been there since the 19th century and was a bank for more than a century before the dough they keep in the vault became literal in the early 2000s. You can still see remnants- safe deposit boxes are right at the Main Street entrance; the bank seal is still on the floor in the dining area; in the basement there is a federal vault door and what serves, now, as the walk-in refrigerator used to be another vault- the security door is still there.

Pizza, Savings and Loan

Until the ’60s, the Williamson County Bank on 4th and Main Streets was one of only three banks in the county. Think about that. There are three banks now on the square of Franklin alone.

Originally the Williamson County Banking & Trust Company, it was founded in 1889 by its first president James Harrison, a former mayor of Franklin, and a few other men. In 1989 on its 100th anniversary and renamed the Sovran Bank that number was $332 million.Williamson County Bank

The county has changed drastically in the building’s lifetime. Available in the Williamson County Archives is a pamphlet the bank put out in the ’60s covering a history of the bank:

“When the new bank opened for business, Williamson Countians were still discussing, with horror, a brutal lynching which had occurred less than a year earlier. On August 10, 1888 a mob invaded the court room of the Williamson County Court House, seized a man charged with a capital offense, and summarily hanged him from the railing of the building’s balcony . . .

“Franklin knew many rough-and-ready days. The swinging doors of seven saloons, in one Main Street block alone, were busy day and night; murder was almost commonplace. A huge Prohibition Mass Meeting was held in 1892, but the saloon flourished for years thereafter.”

Well, the whole “seven saloons” thing might not be all too different from how things are now, with a number of popular restaurants and watering holes in downtown Franklin.

However, crime has steeply changed: the Franklin Police on Monday held a press conference to ask for the public’s help in solving the only unsolved murder in Franklin history. To be able to put that much emphasis on one unsolved crime speaks volumes to the sea change in Williamson County in the past century.