Saint Phillip’s Catholic Church
Missionary priests first celebrated mass in Franklin in 1821 at a private home for the two resident Catholic families. The Nashville diocese planned a Catholic church in Williamson County as early as 1843, but it was the influx of Irish Catholic railroad workers after the Civil War that energized the effort to establish St. Philip Catholic Church in 1871. The workers hand-formed and fired the church’s bricks on site and did all of the construction themselves. Pastor Fr. John Nolan was a talented wood carver who decorated both the church and rectory with his own carvings in the 1890s. In 1921, at the Golden Jubilee, descendants of many of the church’s founders donated the stained glass. Growth in the 1970s necessitated the series of buildings you see today encompassing four separate sanctuaries, all built between 1976 and 1997. Today the main sanctuary was created out of a former bank on Main Street at 1st Avenue and the original building serves as a chapel. Prior to the church, the property was owned by John Eaton, a Franklin lawyer, U.S. Senator and Secretary of War under President Andrew Jackson. Eaton and his wife Peggy became embroiled in a scandal that almost brought down the Jackson administration.