In making his acceptance speech after being honored with the Mary Pearce Legacy Award during the Heritage Foundation’s annual meeting and preservation awards ceremony at the Franklin Theatre Tuesday night, longtime preservationist Ed Silva may have best summed up what the 52-year-old nonprofit is all about.

The honorary award recognizes individuals who have demonstrated years of hard work and dedication to preservation in the community.

“It’s truly an honor to receive this award as an individual, and although it’s an individual award, it’s certainly not just because of my efforts,” said Silva, a two-time Heritage Foundation board president. “Franklin is what it is because of the collaboration between the private sector and the public sector, the energy of its citizens, and the wealth and the sharing of that wealth, and the efforts to make sure this is the best small town in America.

“I’ve been here a really long time, and when I first came to Franklin in 1974, Franklin wasn’t what it is today. It was a battle between the bulldozer and the preservationist, and luckily the preservationist proved to be a winner.”

It was noted throughout the night how preservation is truly a winning concept in Franklin and throughout Williamson County — from the other individuals who were recognized and honored for achievements to the movement to transform the former O’More College of Design campus into the Franklin Grove Estate & Gardens. The year was filled with milestones, philanthropic gifts and a recent Main Street Festival attendance announced at 101,000.

“At the two-year mark of my tenure at the Heritage Foundation, I’m really proud of the growth and momentum we are experiencing,” Heritage Foundation CEO Bari Beasley said. “We have increased our staff size, enhanced our communication and marketing efforts, grown our educational programming, executed signature events and raised millions of dollars to support our mission of saving the places that matter in Williamson County.”

In addition to the honor bestowed on Silva, other highlights from the meeting included:

  • The “Preservation Perseverance” honorary award went to the Nolensville Historical Society for saving the Morton-Brittain house.
  • The Foundation made key announcements regarding its newest division, Franklin Grove Estate & Gardens. The new Franklin Grove logo and initial property concepts of rehabilitated or new structures on the property were unveiled.
  • It was noted that the Lee-Buckner Rosenwald School on property in Spring Hill will be moved to and restored on the Franklin Grove campus.
  • More information was unveiled on the partnership with Williamson Inc. to use one of the Franklin Grove buildings as its Idea Center.
  • It was announced that substantial gifts were presented toward the Franklin Grove projects that will soon be underway, particularly from Sondra Morris (to save the property itself), Emily Magid (toward the Lee-Buckner Rosenwald school restoration and documentary film production), and Calvin and Marilyn LeHew (toward the Victorian mansion, which will be renamed the Calvin LeHew Mansion.
  • New Heritage Foundation board members were announced: Tyler Borders, Lisa Campbell, Adam Dietrich, Bryan Doleshel, Sondra Morris and Ellen Smith.

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