Hard Bargain ribbon cutting highlights new homeowners in historic neighborhood

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A handful of neighbors, distinguished community leaders and city representatives attended a ribbon cutting on Saturday for the recently completed “pocket neighborhood” called Bungalow Court on Mt. Hope Street in Franklin.

The five-home building process was an ambitious project the Hard Bargain Association (HBA) started planning in 2013. HBA builds new homes and sells them at below market value to low- to moderate-income families and individuals. 

For HBA Executive Director Brant Bousquet, the completion of the five homes is one project he had been waiting years to see completed with the help of many generous partners.

“This day is one long in the making,” Bousquet said. “It’s very gratifying to be at this place today. It’s just a dream come true.”

Hard Bargain native Denise Carothers shared her experiences growing up in the historic community she called a “village.”

She remembered walking to Johnson Elementary School, stopping in many homes along the way for lemonade or snacks.

“I would walk in someone’s front door, then go out their back door and cross somebody else’s yard, and come on in,” Carothers said. “It was truly a village growing up in Hard Bargain.

“If you did something, trust me, my father knew about it before I made it down the street and around the corner.”

Anthony Pickett, of First Missionary Baptist Church, shared that the five homes built are exactly what ex-slave and neighborhood founder Harvey McLemore would have envisioned.

“This is truly a big deal,” he said. “It’s a big deal not only because of the day, but because of this wisdom and understanding that Harvey McLemore had land for others to be homeowners. He knew that home ownership was important.”

In 1880, McLemore built one of the first residential dwellings in the subdivision. The home served as a model of community development in Hard Bargain and was the first subdivision of its kind in Franklin – a black middle-class neighborhood of teachers, carpenters, masons and farmers, according to the African American Heritage Society of Williamson County.  

Two of the five homeowners who now call Mount Hope Street home are sisters Shawnell and Janell Goodlow, graduates of Franklin Christian Academy.

The sisters are also the fifth family generation to live in Hard Bargain, which they described as a special place to live.

“This is our history and our heritage,” Shawnell Goodlow said. “This is our family and community.”

“I can walk around and know a lot of people here, or they know me or my family,” Janell Goodlow added.

Shawnell Goodlow works in healthcare, while her sister works in the hospitality industry. Neither thought it would be a realistic goal to live in the area, until Hard Bargain helped them reach their goals in becoming homeowners.

“We’re not having to go outside of our community to work,” Janell Goodlow said.

“Our generation is paying attention to the need of homeownership in our community,” Shawnell Goodlow added.

Along with their small terrier dog, named Dino, both sisters get along really well living together, since it has been that way their entire lives.

“We’re used to being together, but absolutely, it does change the dynamic when it’s a house because it’s a different investment,” Shawnell Goodlow said. “Us being together and owing something together came natural, because we’ve always done that our entire lives.”

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