Main Streets 2016: Tennessee
Franklin, Tennessee proclaims itself “America’s Favorite Main Street.” While other towns might also claim the title, Franklin has the awards to bolster its case: “Best Small Town in Tennessee,” “America’s Most Romantic Main Street,” “One of America’s Greatest Antique Destinations,” and a “Great American Main Street” honor from 1995, the first year that award was presented by the National Trust for Historic Preservation.
Any visit to Franklin starts with its beautifully preserved architecture and vintage brick sidewalks. The 16-block downtown district is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and features antique stores, boutiques, art galleries — even hardware stores. This is a collection of Victorian buildings that invite visitors and residents alike to linger and enjoy a meal, a festival or a stroll.
It’s a suburb of Nashville, yet Franklin, whose population has grown more than fivefold since 1980, more than holds its own as a place to live and do business. Local is the watchword on Main Street, which is populated by a variety of locally owned shops and businesses. This is where Franklin comes to gather and celebrate, where a culture of community prevails throughout the year.
Every fourth Friday finds townspeople coming out for Franklin Arts Scene. April brings the Main Street Festival, a two-day weekend of arts, crafts, kids’ events and food. And for more than 30 years of the community’s much-loved Dickens of a Christmas celebration, Main Street has been the place to go for sugar plums, roasted chestnuts and all manner of old English holiday fare.
This is also a place of historical significance. The Civil War’s Battle of Franklin, which left nearly 10,000 casualties here in November 1864, was a significant defeat for the South’s Army of Tennessee. The battle’s legacy is preserved locally by the Battle of Franklin Trust, which manages two local sites that witnessed the battle: the Carter House and Carnton Plantation. And in the downtown square, a marble statue of a Confederate soldier standing on a granite base commemorates Franklin’s namesake battle.
Main Street Festival photo courtesy of Visitfranklin.com