LEE-BUCKNER, HISTORIC ROSENWALD SCHOOL, WAS SUCCESSFULLY MOVED TO FRANKLIN GROVE FOR RESTORATION AND PERMANENT PRESERVATION
Heritage Foundation of Williamson County saves county’s last remaining Rosenwald School;
Rosenwald Schools were built to educate Black children in the South in the early 20th century
FRANKLIN, TENN. (February 2nd, 2024) – After many years of planning, coordination, and care, Lee-Buckner, the last remaining Rosenwald School in Williamson County, was moved in the early morning hours on February 2 from its current location in Spring Hill, Tennessee, to the Heritage Foundation of Williamson County’sFranklin Grove Estate & Gardens in downtown Franklin, Tennessee.
It will now be restored, preserved, and transformed into an accessible and lasting monument to education and Black history.
“We learned about Lee-Buckner in 2018, and immediately knew we had to do everything possible to save this remarkable piece of history. Now it can become a destination that’s easily accessible to the public so generations to come can learn from it,” said Bari Beasley, President and CEO of the Heritage Foundation. “Thank you to our partners Oversite for undertaking such a significantly important project that took great skill and careful coordination and thank you to the many donors who have stepped up to ensure Lee-Buckner will become a lasting piece of Black history and the history of our county and country.”
Lee-Buckner will be part of the $35 million Franklin Grove Estate & Gardens cultural destination. The Heritage Foundation is continuing its capital campaign on the project which broke ground in late 2023.
The Lee-Buckner school house arrived at Franklin Grove from Spring Hill at approximately 12:17 a.m. CST on February 2nd. Franklin Grove and the Heritage Foundation of Williamson County hosted a special event overnight which included former students to welcome the school upon arrival.
Oversite, a local owner’s representation firm based in Franklin, facilitated the successful relocation of the Lee-Buckner School during the overnight move.
Oversite Project Manager Will Cross said, “The relocation, completed in just over 2 hours, was executed safely and efficiently thanks to our dedicated team and our partners Toothman Structure Movers, American Constructors and 906 Studio. We are grateful for the support of numerous community members throughout the process. Being deeply rooted in Franklin, we take great pride in contributing to projects that hold cultural significance to the community and are honored to collaborate with the Heritage Foundation of Williamson County. We are excited to see the commencement of the first phase of the Franklin Grove project, marking the beginning of a journey where this historic piece will pave the way for future phases.”
Added Beasley, “Over the years, I have frequently been moved to tears hearing testimonials from former students about how this school changed their lives. It was so important and special to have numerous former students with us as the school arrived at Franklin Grove. This is their story and we are proud to tell it.”
The Rosenwald School project built more than 5,000 schools, shops, and teacher homes in the United States during the early 20th century, primarily for the education of Black children in the rural South. Many of those properties have been demolished over the years, however, and today, about 60 former Rosenwald Schools are listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
The Heritage Foundation has been preparing for many years to move Lee-Buckner, working with former students, Black community leaders, historians, preservationists, architects, and engineers to capture oral histories, stabilize the building, and plan for its restoration. The school will become a permanent part of Franklin Grove in downtown Franklin, Tennessee, an emerging landmark cultural site that will create a sense of place, timelessness, and beauty for all people to engage with education, art, history, and nature.
The historic schoolhouse was carefully delivered to its new home by tractor-trailer. As arrangements are made to permanently restore and rehabilitate the schoolhouse at Franklin Grove, it will remain secured and protected from the elements until it debuts and is opened to the public.
For more information on Lee-Buckner, visit: https://williamsonheritage.org/portfolio-posts/lee-buckner-schoolhouse/
ABOUT THE HERITAGE FOUNDATION OF WILLIAMSON COUNTY
Since 1967, the Heritage Foundation of Williamson County has been dedicated to preserving Williamson County’s architectural, geographic and cultural heritage as well as promoting the ongoing revitalization of downtown Franklin in the context of historic preservation. Notable projects include The Franklin Theatre, Roper’s Knob, parts of the Franklin battlefield and the Old, Old Jail. Events and festivals produced by the Heritage Foundation such as Main Street Festival, the Heritage Ball, PumpkinFest and Dickens of a Christmas bring an estimated 300,000+ locals and visitors to downtown Franklin each year that creates more than a $10 million economic impact annually. The Heritage Foundation owns and operates The Franklin Theatre, Downtown Franklin Association, Franklin Grove Estate & Gardens, and its newest historic adaptive reuse project: The Moore-Morris History & Culture Center of Williamson County. For more information about the Heritage Foundation, visit www.williamsonheritage.org.