In the 1920s, The Rotary Club named Franklin “Tennessee’s Most Handsome Town” to encourage business expansion. Today visitors agree that Franklin is one of the prettiest towns in the United States. Entering town from the interstate, one’s first glimpse is of the town square, with the Confederate soldier at its center and a sweep of lovely Victorian and modern buildings along Main Street. An early 1990s Streetscape project complements the architecture with period lighting, plantings and public improvements. In 1995 the National Trust for Historic Preservation awarded Franklin one of five Great American Main Street awards for its outstanding downtown revitalization. Although it’s difficult to imagine today, at one time Franklin was in a sad state of disrepair. Sidewalks were cracked and broken and metal sheeting covered the facades of some of the Victorian buildings. It was the foresight of a few visionaries who brought Franklin back from the brink with building renovations and public improvements. On Saturdays, the sidewalks were packed with people from all over the county who came to shop and play. The men visited the barbershop, pool hall or one of Franklin’s seedy beer joints. The women shopped at the grocery, drug and dry goods stores, and got a hair set. The children ran from the picture show to the ice cream shops to the riverbank to wade and catch minnows. Willow Plunge, the largest spring-fed concrete pool in the Southeast, offered relief from sultry summer days. Harry Marsh, a popular figure on the
square in Franklin for over fifty years, had the last horse-drawn carriage taxi. Harry and Salem took you for a spin around town for a nickel. Chapman’s Pie Wagon sold hamburgers and Cokes and pies, of course, from this location. Franklin characters with names like Spare-a-Dime still make old-timers chuckle at the memory.