One of Franklin’s historic homes is taking a road trip.
The quaint dusty green Victorian house was built around the turn of the 20th century, settled on Wayne Street just south of the courthouse square. With its scalloped exterior siding, multicolored porch post and ornate gingerbread corner brackets, it is an architectural time capsule to Franklin’s past.
But with a proposal for a mixed-use development on Wayne Street, the home was tabbed to be torn down.
A local preservation group is ensuring that doesn’t happen.
“There’s a finite amount of historic structures. Franklin is famous for its historic architecture — that’s what brings a lot of people here. We need to celebrate that and try to do what we can to keep those buildings,” said Rob Shilts, executive director of Franklin Heritage Inc. “We’re not opposed to new development. But we need to keep that balance between the new and historic.”
On June 22, the historic home at 50 E. Wayne Street will be raised up hydraulically, set on wheeled dollies and transported, inch by inch, to its new location at the corner of Madison and Crowell streets. Franklin Heritage Inc., which has spearheaded efforts to save the city’s diverse architectural elements, has contracted MCF House Movers, a company based in Petersburg, to handle the move.
The move requires coordination between the city government, Duke Energy and other partners when the house is moved in the early morning hours on June 22.
But the work is worth it to save something one of a kind.
“It goes back to what our heritage has been for the last several years with Franklin Heritage, and a group of people who are on a mission to save as many older homes and older buildings that they can,” said Franklin Mayor Steve Barnett.
The project will cost roughly $70,000, including about $28,000 for the house-moving itself, about $13,000 for foundation work and approximately $25,000 for utility hook-ups, infrastructure and miscellaneous costs, Shilts said.
Workers from MCF House Movers plan to dig around the entire structure, exposing the foundation, and steel beams will slide underneath it to support it. The house will be raised with hydraulic jacks, slowly moved onto wheeled dollies and pulled by a truck through town.
The preparation for the move has already started, and the relocation will start at 5 a.m. June 22. With the early start, Franklin Heritage aims to disrupt traffic as little as possible.
The route will go from Wayne Street to South Main Street, then down Monroe Street. Turning up Home Avenue, it will cross Jefferson Street and turn on Madison Street to the home’s new location.
“Because it’s right downtown, and will move through the town, so we’re going to try to make this more of a historic event, where people can follow along the route and watch history move through town,” Shilts said.
Franklin Heritage is a nonprofit that has been focused on preservation since its formation in 1983. The group’s most highly visible project has been the restoration and operation of the Historic Artcraft Theatre, but it has led work on 11 other historic restorations in the city.
Even structures that cannot be saved have elements of their architecture salvaged, so they can live on in the future, Shilts said. Franklin Heritage operates a store, Madison Street Salvage, that sells those elements to other homeowners.
Their work has been one piece in the revitalization of downtown Franklin.
“We built this town up with renovating and restoring the Artcraft, and with Discover Downtown Franklin putting together the festivals and the Franklin Development Corp. doing the facade grants, we’ve made this a destination,” Shilts said. “By doing that, we’re kind of a victim of our own success, so we’re going to see more of this kind of development.”
For more than two years, The Bemis Group has made preparations and acquired properties in downtown Franklin for an $11 million mixed-use development dubbed Newkirk Square. The project will bring high-end condos, townhomes, restaurants and retail to the downtown by the end of 2023.
Seeing the structures that would be demolished to make way for that project, Franklin Heritage leaders started working to see what could be done.
The house is fully restored inside and out, including architectural elements from Madison Street Salvage that had been taken from other historic homes matching the time period. Moving it emerged as the best option, Shilts said.
The process has taken nearly two months, as Franklin Heritage searched for available lots near downtown where the house could be moved to. Factors such as mature trees that would need to be cut down and power lines narrowed the list of suitable locations as well.
The move is part of a coordinated effort between Franklin Heritage Inc., the office of Franklin Mayor Steve Barnett, city street department, Franklin Community Development Department, Franklin Board of Public Works, the Franklin Development Corporation, The Bemis Group, Duke Energy, and other utility companies.
Each side worked together to ensure the impact of the move would be minimal. City officials signed off on the project.
“For the history of the city, we support Franklin Heritage on their mission. That is the reason it was important to do this,” Barnett said.
Other structures slated to be demolished won’t be moved, but elements of them will be saved. The exterior and signage from the former Texaco gas station on South Main Street will be dismantled and moved to a collector in southern Johnson County.
Work is in place to see if aspects of the other homes, such as front porches, gingerbread trim and other decorative items, can be salvaged.
“We want to make sure we maintain that unique architectural heritage we have here in Franklin,” Shilts said.
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Moving historic home
What: Plans are in place to transport a house built in around the turn of the 20th century across downtown Franklin to prevent it from being torn down for a construction project.
Where: The house is located at 50 E. Wayne St. It will be moved to an empty lot at the corner of Madison and Crowell streets.
Who: Led by preservation group Franklin Heritage Inc., the project includes partnerships between the Franklin mayor’s office, city street department, Franklin Community Development Department, Franklin Board of Public Works, the Franklin Development Corporation, MCF House Movers, The Bemis Group, Duke Energy, and other utility companies.
When: The house will be moved started at 5 a.m. June 22. Moving should take about three hours.
Route: Movers will transport the house from Wayne Street, north on South Main Street, east on Monroe Street, North on Home Avenue and east on Madison Street.