By MATT BLOIS
The Heritage Foundation of Williamson County at a press conference on Monday afternoon announced the finalization of the purchase of the former campus of the O’More College of Design.
The group also announced the creation of a new committee that will oversee the project to convert the campus to other community uses.
The purchase is the largest preservation project in the foundation’s 52-year history.
Heritage Foundation CEO Bari Beasley said that about a year ago Calvin and Marilyn LeHew and Emily Magid agreed to pay off the debt on the Big House restoration project, which served as Williamson County’s jail from 1941 to 1970.
“That put our organization in a place to dream and to decide what we would do next in terms of preservation projects,” she said. “Without those gifts we would not be here today.”
At a press conference, the foundation announced a new advisory committee that will make sure the project is carried out on time and incorporates community input.
The 16-person board includes the CEO of the Heritage Foundation, the Mayor of Franklin, the CEO of Williamson Inc. and the president of the African American Heritage Society of Williamson County.
The Heritage Foundation created a similar committee when it purchased the Franklin Theatre.
The foundation is also planning to hire a new staff member to manage the project. The project manager will lead the effort to restore and rehabilitate the campus.
After the project is completed, the foundation hopes the project manager will become the executive director of the property, supervising operations.
In addition to the entrepreneurship center, the Heritage Foundation plans to use the seven acre site for education programming, public gardens, displaying collections and hosting events.
Beasley said that while the foundation was able to raise the money needed to purchase the house, the group is still in the middle of a campaign to raise enough money to complete the restoration.
Members of the advisory committee
- Danny Anderson: Managing broker for Parks Real Estate Services and Heritage Foundation board member
- Tom Atema: Owner of the Atema Partners Family of Companies (AP Live, OCD Labs and Media Visions)
- Bari Beasley: CEO of the Heritage Foundation
- John Bond: Owner of Twine Graphics & Screen Printing and design chair of the Downtown Franklin Association, a division of the Heritage Foundation
- Tracy Frist: Educator, farmer, historic property owner and Heritage Foundation board member
- David Garrett: Family law attorney and Heritage Foundation board president
- Matt Largen: CEO of Williamson, Inc.
- Calvin LeHew: Preservationist, community leader and Heritage Foundation donor
- Emily Magid: Heritage Foundation board member, volunteer and donor
- Alma McLemore: President of the African American Heritage Society of Williamson County
- Sharon McNeely: Preservationist and community leader
- Mayor Ken Moore: Mayor of the City of Franklin and retired doctor
- Ellen More: Community leader
- Sondra Morris: Former educator and owner of RNM Management and Properties
- Ed Silva: Attorney and two-term past president of the Heritage Foundation board of directors
- Ellie Westman-Chin: President and CEO of the Williamson County Convention & Visitors Bureau”