FRANKLIN –– The Heritage Foundation of Williamson County announced Monday the closing on the O’More campus property.
The group raised $6 million to purchase the land from Belmont University after it bought out the local design college.
“The purchase of this campus is a tremendous accomplishment, being that it is the largest preservation project in the 52-year history of our organization,” foundation CEO Bari Watson Beasley said. “With the help of our generous donors and lending partner, FirstBank, we will be able to restore the historic integrity of the property, create a community asset and provide a place to experience preservation, arts and education.”
In late 2018, Heritage Foundation and Williamson, Inc. partnered to create an entrepreneurship center on the property. Williamson Inc. signed a multiyear lease agreement for the Fleming-Farrah mansion.
In addition, the foundation created an advisory committee to oversee the vision and future of the property.
“These leaders represent diverse perspectives but with the common thread of a love for this community,” Garrett said. “As we approach a project of this magnitude, it’s important to have a group of people who have the Heritage Foundation’s and our community’s best interests and vision in mind.”
Who is on the 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
- 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
About the former O’More campus
A county appraisal from 2016 lists the property at $4.78 million, according to Brad Coleman, Williamson County’s property assessor.
O’More campus is on the National Register of Historic Places.
The Abbey Leix Mansion on the property was built in the 1870s after the Civil War. Soldiers burned the original home after declaring the family who lived there was disloyal to the Confederate Army, according to historical property records.
In 1979, the campus became O’More College of Design, named after its founder Eloise Pitts O’More. She lived on the campus until her death in 2002.
About the Heritage Foundation
The Heritage Foundation of Williamson County has worked to save properties in the area for going on 52 years. Some of its biggest preservation projects include the Franklin Theatre, Roper’s Knob, parts of the Franklin battlefield and the Old, Old Jail.