Partners and supporters of the Heritage Foundation of Williamson County had a chance to join staff and board members to get what one might call a bird’s eye view of the nonprofit’s accomplishments over the past year.
For one thing, the 2019 Sponsor Recognition Champagne Brunch was held in the new rooftop space of the 231 Public Square building in downtown Franklin, making it the first event to be held in that space. And while guests enjoyed their meal provided by Ruby Sunshine, which is also located in 231 Public Square, they were given an overview of the goals reached and achievements made by the 52-year-old Heritage Foundation.
“I love everything they are doing, love what they have done, love what they are going to do,” said Emily Magid, a major donor to the organization who serves on the Board of Directors executive council. “I mean seriously, look at what we’ve accomplished. Look at all the different sponsors that we’ve had. It’s not just that, but we’ve made friends and we can work and network to make Franklin and Williamson County a much better place. You need the cooperation from people to do that.”
Katie Rysiewicz, the Heritage Foundation’s corporate relations manager, gave a brief presentation that highlighted the nonprofit’s past year. She pointed to the group’s two divisions, the Franklin Theatre and the Downtown Franklin Association.
The theater, which operated from 1937 to 2007 before undergoing a major renovation project to reopen in 2010, has about 600 events each year. In 2018, it welcomed some 74,000 patrons.
“We’re really proud of all the theater is doing,” Rysiewicz said, “and we’re excited to look forward to some new programs in 2020, offering some new sponsorships with the Franklin Theatre that haven’t been done before.”
The Downtown Franklin Association counts 110 businesses as members, adding 10 so far in 2019.
The Heritage Foundation is also moving forward on its newest project, Franklin Grove Estate and Gardens on the campus of the former O’More College of Design. The organization has raised $11 million toward the project, and in December will begin demolition of non-contributing structures. Work is also progressing on the relocation of the Lee Buckner School from Spring Hill to Franklin Grove. The Rosenwald school was a one-room schoolhouse for African American students in the 1940s and 1950s before desegregation.
Rysiewicz pointed out the success of the Foundation’s annual Heritage Ball, as well as its festivals — Main Street, Pumpkinfest and Dickens of a Christmas coming up Dec. 14-15.
She also mentioned corporate sponsorship for the Heritage Foundation saw a 37% increase over 2018.
“Our job every day is to save historic places, to do good in the community, and to create events like these festivals that bring families out and together and make Franklin such a special place,” said Bari Beasley, CEO of the Heritage Foundation.