Friends of Franklin Parks Offering Harlinsdale Paver Deal
In the spirit of the holiday season, Friends of Franklin Parks is offering an opportunity for the public to purchase a tax-deductible paver for $250, and getting a second paver for FREE!
The 5" x 10" pavers can be engraved with three lines up to 16 characters each, and purchasers can include any message that honors or inspires.This offer is good through Christmas Day (December 25). Purchase through our website or by calling the Friends of Franklin Parks at 615-674-5388.
Harlinsdale Farm: Franklin may restore giant horse barn from the 1940s
By: Emily West, Nashville Tenn
FRANKLIN — The toe of Monty McInturff's boot scuffed at the dirt inside the barn at the Park at Harlinsdale Farm. On a cold November morning, the inside of the barn was still and its stalls empty.
McInturff spent much of his high school years working in the barn before he went on to become an equine veterinarian. He later became the resident veterinarian for the farm from 1991 to 2017.
"You don't have to have worked here or spent time with horses inside this barn to know how special this place is," he said.
The park — now home to pups, polo and the Pilgrimage Music and Cultural Festival —could soon see some improvement to its main feature. Construction started on the main barn the day before Pearl Harbor in 1941. Inscriptions in the concrete foundation mark the date. In the years since then, the Harlin family and then the city have made only minor renovations.
But in 2019, Franklin and the nonprofit Friends of Franklin Parks hope to change that.
"For me, it just makes me happy to know this is happening," McInturff said. "Most people don't have a farm. And for some in Franklin, the barn represents their farm. We've been bringing awareness, and now it's time to get this barn up to speed."
A Harlin perspective
Clay Harlin can still picture coming to Harlinsdale farm morning after morning, greeted by rising mist and the smell of horses.
Harlin is the son of Bill Harlin, who died in 2017. He and his family owned Harlinsdale Farm starting back in 1937.
The land stayed in the family until 2005, when they decided to sell the 200-acre property to Franklin. Before it became a public park, the Harlins raised Tennessee walking horses, the most notable of which was Midnight Sun.
"I was fortunate to be born at the time that I was," Harlin said. "It’s hard now to maintain a family operation like that. It was an enchanted time. I adored my grandfather and my father, and I grew up under their feet to learn from some of the best in the business."
Harlin said he knew the barn had suffered wear and tear over the last few decades. The family has worked with Friends of Franklin Parks to raise money to fix the structure for generations to come.
"If someone didn’t restore it, it would be lost forever," Harlin said. "I enjoy seeing people of Franklin enjoy what I enjoy."
The city's plans
Back in early November, Franklin Parks Director Lisa Clayton told Franklin leaders that restoring the main barn was needed in the next decade.
"The main barn is the most visible on the property," Clayton said. "Whether it's a matter of a private or public event, everyone wants to go into the barn. People love the nostalgia and history.... It's our top priority."
Since the City of Franklin took ownership of the barn, crews have reinforced the roof of the structure. But no other major updates have been made, Clayton said. Current estimates put upgrading the barn at $1.7 million, but that could change.
By the end of November, Clayton said she hoped to see the results of a master plan from architects Tuck Hinton, who were commissioned to come up with ways to go about a renovation project. Part of the money to help fund the upgrades will come from Friends of Franklin Parks, which has raised $250,000 for the project.
Clayton said the most important upgrade would be adding a fire suppression system to the barn. Currently, the Franklin Fire Department has to be on site and all doors have to be raised for events to take place inside the barn. Capacity numbers have to be kept small.
"We only have one barn like this in the parks system," she said. "We have to protect it. Because if anything happened to it, it would be gone. And there's not a true way to get something like that back."
Other projects on the farm
Friends of Franklin Parks has actively campaigned to restore the 1890s farmhouse known as the Hayes House, which sits prominently at the Park at Harlinsdale Farm.
Restoring the house in its entirety will cost an estimated $425,000, according to the city's capital improvement plan documents.
With grant money from the Tennessee Historical Commission secured, preservation work is set to begin on the farmhouse's windows.
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Friends of Franklin Parks, Inc. exists to cultivate stewardship within our community to preserve our cultural and natural resources, enhance the park experience and expand its legacy for future generations.
Friends of Franklin Parks is a not-for-profit organization that formed to bridge the gap between the services and amenities offered by government funding and those that allow us to take full advantage of the incredible natural and historic resources of our community.
Working closely with the City of Franklin and its Parks Department, the public-private partnership is dedicated to identifying needs that exist within the 16-park system, casting a vision for future enhancements and connecting the dots between existing public open spaces.
Learn more about us here.
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“Everybody needs beauty as well as bread, places to play in and pray in, where Nature may heal and cheer and give strength to body and soul alike.”
— John Muir
In April 2016, the Tractor Supply Co. Arena at the Park at Harlinsdale Farm was opened to the public, and now holds polo matches, equestrian events and other fun activities throughout the year. Friends of Franklin Parks raised the funds to construct the Arena, in conjunction with the City's Parks Department and a host of corporate and individual partners. As a result, the horses have come back to this historic farm at the northern gateway to Franklin.
acres of parkland in Franklin, Tennessee
of Franklin residents rate the Parks system as important to our quality of life
of Franklin's Parks are still being completed
Become a Friend of Franklin Parks! As a public-private partnership, our work depends on the support of individuals, families, corporate partners and other non-profit organizations. By becoming a Friend, you can help us preserve our community's historic and natural resources and enhance our incredible park system.