Restoration breathes life into West Main ‘old funeral home’
By Kerri Bartlett, Assistant Editor
Built around 1903, the historic Dozier House is currently undergoing renovations before its premiere as the next O’More Show House in April 2014. Development plans for Ledgelawn, consisting of six upscale homes on the surrounding 2.5-acre property, is in the city of Franklin planning process.
Restoration is breathing life back into the historic Dozier House, 1009 W. Main St., most recently known as the “old funeral home.” The lingering funeral home moniker might soon fade as the structure is transformed back into the grand home that it once was in the Hincheyville Historic District.
“We are very excited about bringing the grand old house back to life,” said Historian Rick Warwick, of the Heritage Foundation of Franklin and Williamson County. “It was in danger of being destroyed, but there is a grand house in there.”
“It’s a jewel sitting in a prominent place – an ornament on that end of town.”
An Atlanta-based company, Thrive Homes, is restoring the home, which will also serve as the 2014 O’More Alumni Show House in April.
Not only will the home be restored, but a new residential development will be built on the 2.5 acres surrounding the structure to be called Ledgelawn, according to Franklin Municipal Planning Commission records. The neighborhood, according to the developer, will consist of six homes ranging from 3,000 to 4,500 square feet, with a price point beginning around $900,000.
“It is our desire that the homes fit into the streetscape of West Main,” said Kirstin Hobday, Chief Operating Officer of Thrive Homes. “The homes will be Craftsman and Tudor-inspired, containing large porches and solid wood doors and windows on the exterior.They will be solidly built with brick foundations.”
One home to bear the address 1007 West Main was approved by the Franklin Historic Zoning Commission, and the next phase of homes up for approval will come before the body August 12.
Heritage Foundation Executive Director Mary Pearce said she is pleased that the history of the Dozier House will be restored as part of the Historic Hincheyville District.
According to National Register Properties, Williamson County Tennessee, (Hillsboro Press 1995) Hincheyville comprised the first 59 residential lots in Franklin.The area on West Main was named for Hinchey Petway, a wealthy merchant who sold ninety acres adjoining the west margin of Franklin.
“Hincheyville was the first subdivision to Franklin in 1819. It ran from Five Points at Fifth Avenue to 11th Avenue, including Fair Street and West Main,” Warwick explained. “It was considered one of the best residential parts of Franklin and continues to be.”
The future Showhouse began with N.B Dozier (1846-1918) in 1903, a civil war soldier making his money as a salesman in stoves and iron works. When he died in 1918, his estate was worth about $150,000 – probably making him one of the richest men in town, Warwick said.
In 1926, J.B. and Bessie Briggs bought the place and lived there until 1936, when M.T. Regen moved there with his funeral home. In 1947, Ed Warren and Gerald Smithson purchased the house for their funeral home, known as Warren & Smithson Funeral Home, and it went by that name until Warren bought out Smithson in 1951. In 1957, Ed Warren and Bethurum, Henry and Robinson Funeral Home merged forming Franklin Memorial Chapel.
Additions to the funeral home made later in the 1950’s were incompatible with the original structure according to Warwick, such as a ramp leading to the front door, which was demolished last month upon the city’s approval.
“The additions were made during a period of time in America when people wanted to modernize properties,” Pearce said.
The National Register of Historic Places has designated the Dozier House as a “nonconforming structure” due to the additions made on the funeral home that were considered incompatible with the original structure, according to Pearce.
She said she would like for the home to be rid of the nonconforming label and be recorded at long last as a conformed historic structure.
“We are looking forward to it being elevated to the status of a contributing property on the National Register of Historic Places,” Pearce said.
“We are pleased that the restoration will guide designs that will conform to the character of the neighborhood to ensure that the Hincheyville Historic District will be kept for future generations as a historic resource,” Pearce said.
Posted on: 8/8/2013