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Franklin: Historic Courthouse coming back to life

The Historic Williamson County Courthouse located on The Square in downtown Franklin closed its doors to judicial business in May 2004 when the Williamson County Judicial Center on Fourth Avenue South opened.

After six years of extensive renovations and preservation, the former center of the county’s conscience will reopen and begin to reclaim its position as an integral part of the community.

Occupants are moving into the building and the first official business to be held at the courthouse will occur in September when Franklin resident and Supreme Court Justice Cornelia Clark will be sworn in as chief justice of the Tennessee Supreme Court.

Initially plans for the building that was built in 1858 and experienced three previous renovations included renting space to public entities like the Chamber of Commerce until the judicial system needed to expand.

That need came sooner than planned and the first occupants in the historic building are Sheriff Jeff Long, the criminal and civil warrants division of the Sheriff’s Department and the Grand Jury, which has a grand, newly renovated and secluded room to deliberate cases.

Long’s new digs has three large windows and quite a view – the Franklin Square, which he admits he loves.

The sheriff said he will maintain his primary office at the county jail, but will use the courthouse office to conduct judicial business and do paperwork when the former courtroom on the main level is used as a meeting room and he is on security duty.

“The meeting room is for the public to use for community meetings so if it’s going to be open, somebody’s got to close it – that would be me since providing security is a primary part of my job,” Long said. “”It is also a convenient place to meet people.”

And it is good to get back to where county’s the judicial system started, Long added.

“The sheriff’s office was in this building when I came in 1974,” he said. “It’s good to be back home.”

With his new office located so close to the judicial offices, Long has already found it convenient meeting with judges or picking up court documents.

“The courthouse office is for convenience, but it also necessary,” Long said. “In time, I will share time equally at both locations.”

Long’s new part-time location may also come with additional duties. He has recently been seen acting as a tour guide to visitors on the Square. With Long’s knowledge of and experiences in the county, he may have another career option when he decides to retire.



Posted on: 8/19/2010


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