Joseph McGill

Joseph McGill

The Historic Franklin Masonic Hall Foundation will be hosting what is known as the Slave Dwelling Project Friday, Feb. 14-15, at Masonic Hall on Second Avenue South in downtown Franklin.

This will be the first time this event has been held in Franklin. Joseph McGill, founder of the Slave Dwelling Project, will facilitate the two-part program. The first part, titled “Candid Conversations: Changing the Narrative One Story at a Time,” will be discussed from 7-9 p.m. Friday. It is free and open to the public.

For those seeking more involvement, the second part — titled “Continued Conversations: A Sleepover with the Slave Dwelling Project” — will be a sleepover on the first floor of Masonic Hall from 9 p.m. Feb. 14 to 9 a.m. Feb. 15. This is $20 a person and is nonrefundable.

“The Slave Dwelling Project envisions a future in which the hearts and minds of Americans acknowledge a more truthful and inclusive narrative of the history of the nation that honors the contributions of all our people, is embedded and preserved in the buildings and artifacts of people of African heritage, and inspires all Americans to acknowledge their ancestors,” McGill said.

“Having Joseph McGill bring his level of expertise on this subject as well as his passion for inclusivity in telling the whole story — changing the narrative — is one of our key initiatives at the Historic Franklin Masonic Hall,” said Executive Director Rachael Finch.

“Bringing forth the stories of the enslaved in Franklin and Williamson County, the state of Tennessee and much of our country prior to the War, allows for us to re-examine and re-direct how we currently view and discuss the topics of American slavery, the Civil War to Civil Rights, and our present day conversations surrounding race and reconciliation.”  

McGill is a history consultant for Magnolia Plantation in Charleston, South Carolina. Sleeping in extant slave dwellings and places built by the enslaved for a decade continues to bring much needed attention to these often neglected structures and stores that are vitally important to the American built environment.

Prior to the creation of the Slave Dwelling Project, McGill was a field officer for the National Trust for Historic Preservation working to revitalize the Sweet Auburn commercial district in Atlanta, and to develop a management plan for the Mississippi Delta National Heritage Area. 

To learn more about the Slave Dwelling Project, go to To learn more about Candid Conversations and the Historic Franklin Masonic Hall Foundationprograms, visit

For additional information or questions, contact Finch at [email protected]. The Historic Franklin Masonic Hall is located at 115 Second Ave. S. Free parking is available on the street as well as in the Second Avenue South parking garage, located directly across the street from the Hall. 

For the sleepover, late-night snacks and beverages will be available. Light breakfast and coffee will be served the early morning of Feb. 15. All sleepover participants must provide their own sleeping bags/gear for the night. Restroom facilitates will be fully available and accessible.

 Space is limited. To register for the sleepover, go to

Both events are open to the public; however, due to the nature of the subject matter, the Candid Conversations and Sleepover are recommended for ages 15 and older. Any sleepover participant between the ages of 15 to 18 years old must be accompanied by a parent or legal guardian.