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Williamson DAR looks to establish headquarters, renovate historic property

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Williamson County’s Daughters of the American Revolution could soon begin the restoration process on a Civil War property they hope to use as their headquarters and a teaching space.

Located on 5 acres near Carnton, the Collins Farm was the former home to plantation manager William Collins and his family. Following the 1864 Battle of Franklin, the farm was a field hospital and temporary gravesite for the dead.

In 2019, Franklin’s Old Glory DAR chapter approached the city about pursuing a public-private partnership to restore the farm to working condition.

During the most recent Franklin Board of Mayor and Aldermen meeting, City Administrator Eric Stuckey said working with the DAR to renovate the property would be an investment in the city. 

“This is a great way to work with an organization that’s engaged in the community,” he said. “We can do something that benefits both the community and one of our local nonprofits.”

In Franklin since 1897, the DAR primarily functions to honor veterans and preserve history, said chapter regent Sarah Ford. According to their website, the local chapter has over 250 members.

Though the property is a Civil War historic site, Ford said their mission includes preserving all war history and sharing with the younger generations. 

By locating their headquarters at the Collins Farm, Ford hopes to provide office and event space, as well as educational days for local schools.

The property consists of two main buildings and a shed, as well as a garden. Ford said the chapter would commit to investing $400,000 for the property’s restoration. 

Ford has had previous site visits with city officials. 

“It’s in pretty bad shape,” she said of the main structure.

City Parks Director Lisa Clayton agreed with that assessment, noting the property is, “in dire need of a full restoration.” She sees the potential partnership as an opportunity for that restoration and said the city would consider a long-term lease agreement.

The property is across Lewisburg Pike from a piece of land recently purchased by the Battle of Franklin Trustand other local nonprofits. 

The city purchased the Collins Farm in 2007 from the Save the Franklin Battlefield Trust for $47,000. Under the preservation nonprofit, the property was declared a conservation easement by the Land Trust. 

“This is really about the history,” Clayton said. “These women really want to engage with our community.”

“You’re dealing with a lot of ladies who are into history and into genealogy,” Ford said at the meeting. “We look forward to taking care of this property, for the city, with the city. I think that’s our main goal.”

The BOMA will vote on the matter at a meeting in 2021.

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