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Passing of Jim Hayes

It is with heavy hearts that we share of Mr. Jim Hayes passing on January 27th.

Jim Hayes, the son of Harlin Hayes, at an early age developed a love for radio. He spent a lifetime in the industry building towers and radio stations. Jim Hayes voice was known to many in Franklin as it was often heard on WAGG and WAKM.

Jim also became the “voice of Harlinsdale Farm” as he teamed up with Bill Harlin to conduct the farms annual sale of top yearling colts. Jim would read the pedigrees and assure the bidders of the soundness of each entry.

After Jim’s father’s passing, he managed to keep all of the family’s famous brood mares intact. He, Bill, and Tom Harlin were not only cousins but also business partners in what was known as the finest group of mares in the Walking Hose Breed.

Jim’s smile, stories, humor, wisdom, and “hello cuz” will be missed.

Our deepest sympathies are with his wife, Mrs. Judy Hayes and family. Mrs. Judy is a key member of the Harlinsdale Committee and we will continue our efforts for restoration of the Park at Harlinsdale Farm, including his birthplace, the Hayes House, in his honor.

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New draft suggests renovations to Park at Harlinsdale Farm in Franklin

By: Emily West, Nashville Tennessean

FRANKLIN –– Architects released a draft this week of a new master plan that would improve the Park at Harlinsdale Farm in Franklin. 

The masterplan includes plans for the Hayes House, the main barn, two worker houses, the power station and trails. Franklin's parks department has maintained Harlinsdale since 2005, when the City of Franklin purchased it from the Harlin family. 

Expenses to restore pieces of the farm will run into the millions, but Friends of Franklin Parks also agreed to donate $300,000 toward renovations for the park. Because it is a draft, none of the plans have been finalized by the Board of Mayor and Aldermen. Here's what the plan requests:

The barn 

Construction started on the main barn in December 1941. Inscriptions in the concrete foundation mark the date. In the years since, the Harlin family and then the city made only minor renovations. 

The roof has already been replaced, but still lacks a fire suppression system. Park officials said that puts the barn in danger and requires the fire department to be at the park when events take place. Restrooms, lighting and an air system were also part of the plans. 

Parks director Lisa Clayton explained that the barn could also have both a historic transformation and provide an event space. 

Bill Harlin, who died in 2017, owned Harlinsdale Farm starting back in 1937. Clayton said plans for restoring his office are in the works, along with some of the horse stalls.

Costs  for a full restoration sits around $1.7 million, Clayton said. 

The Hayes House 

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.

Clayton said the space has a lot of potential. From their planning perspective, it could be used as a public meeting and event space or provide the city with a different park office. 

Costs to fully restore the house total $586,750, which is around $100,000 more than was projected in 2015. The house needs full restoration work, plus electrical and plumbing.

Already, the Tennessee Historical Commission secured grant money for the house. Preservation work is set to begin on the farmhouse's windows this year.

Worker houses

As visitors come to Harlinsdale, two small white houses sit to the left of the fence line. The houses –– formerly for workers on the farm –– are also part of the transformation to the park. 

Both houses need substantial work, Clayton said. 

She said they could be used for as a park security office, visitor center for the park or for outside programming. The Pilgrimage Music and Cultural Festival already uses the exterior of one of the houses during its annual two-day event. 

The cost to renovate both is $355,000.

Power station

The former power station for the farm could merge into a museum for agriculture, Tennessee Walking Horses and the interurban railway.

Clayton said the space could be both a museum and event space that could hold up to 400 people. Currently, a shell of the power station is what's left on the farm, with all of its windows taken out. 

Costs to renovate the 8,800 square foot space would run at $5.6 million. 

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Five new members join the board of nonprofit Friends of Franklin Parks

Friends of Franklin Parks, the non-profit organization dedicated to supporting the city’s public park system with private community resources, has added five new members to its board of directors.

Hamilton Bowman, a native of Franklin and chief operating officer of Franklin-based EnableComp, is a graduate of Battle Ground Academy and Vanderbilt University, where he earned two advanced degrees. He is a member of the Board of Trustees at BGA, a fellow on the Nashville Health Care Council, and a graduate of Leadership Middle Tennessee. Bowman and his wife, Emily, have two young daughters and enjoy spending time outdoors together as a family.

Ken Chin is president of KAC Sports & Events, LLC, a consulting firm that leverages his 25-year sports business career that began with the National Hockey League’s events department. He later served as vice president of events and business development with the Atlanta Sports Council. After a stint as executive director of Denver Sports, he and his wife, Ellie, relocated to Franklin. Chin is currently a consultant for the Williamson County Sports Authority and has previously consulted for the Nashville Predators and the 2016 NHL All-Star Game held in Nashville. He holds a master’s degree from The Ohio State University, as well as a certification in sports and special event marketing from New York University.

Clay Harlin brings a lifetime of affiliation with Harlinsdale Farm, as a member of the namesake family. He was involved professionally with the horse-breeding operation from the time he was a teenager until the farm was sold to the city for parkland, and later was president of Mid South Uniform Service in Tullahoma, Tennessee. Harlin holds a degree in Bible and preaching from Lipscomb University, and has worked as a teaching pastor and director of missions, which has allowed him to teach and lead short-term missions in Haiti, Honduras, India, Romania and Ukraine. He retired in 2017 to care for his ailing father, the late Bill Harlin, and enjoys spending time with his wife, Faye, their three adult children and eight grandchildren.

Jan Marshall, a native of Middle Tennessee, was admissions director for Franklin Road Academy for more than a decade, prior to moving to Leiper’s Fork to open Puckett’s Gro. & Restaurant with her husband, Andy. Marshall’s father was a member of Nashville Mayor Beverly Briley’s administration and worked closely with Metro and Tennessee State Parks, and she remembers hiking and camping in parks across the state as a child. Later, she was introduced to significant projects that improved public resources such as Nashville’s Centennial Park and Fort Negley. A. Marshall Hospitality, her family’s business, has grown to include 11 restaurants spanning six
concepts across the state. She is the mother to three children who all work in the business and have provided five grandchildren.

Matt Roberts works in the Franklin office of Stites & Harbison, PLLC, practicing in the firm’s real estate and banking service group. He grew up in Nashville and Memphis, attended the University of Georgia and then earned a law degree from the Washington and Lee University School of Law. Roberts joins the Friends of Franklin Parks board having served on its Riverwalk and Trails Committee since 2016. He has also served on the board of Williamson County CASA since 2010, and is a past president and chair of the legislative committee of the Tennessee Association of Property Tax Professionals, a member of the Trustee’s Council of the Land Trust for Tennessee, and a member of the Franklin Noon Rotary. Roberts lives in Franklin with his wife, Lauren, and two daughters.

The historic Main Barn at The Park at Harlinsdale Farm.

The historic Main Barn at The Park at Harlinsdale Farm.

Historic Main Barn at The Park at Harlinsdale Farm

A nationally known horse breeding facility established in the 1930s just north of downtown Franklin, Harlinsdale Farm was purchased by the city of Franklin in 2004, placed under a permanent conservation easement in 2007, and opened to the public shortly thereafter.

Harlinsdale Farm has been called the most significant historic farm associated with the Tennessee Walking Horse Industry. In 1933, W.W. Harlin established the farm on the northern outskirts of great renown in the fledgling Tennessee Walking Horse Industry. From the 1940s until the early 2000s, the farm served mainly as a breeding operation, run by the Harlin Family. Friends of Franklin Parks aims to assist the City in restoring this famous Tennessee landmark.

The historic Main Barn at the Park at Harlinsdale Farm is an iconic symbol in our community. This year, Friends of Franklin Parks has pledged $300K to this restoration project. With the help from our community, we have reached close to $260K in support of this effort! Please consider helping us get this important project under way! We are offering several sponsorship opportunities, including the Yearling Club Sponsorship at $1,000 (online payment is available below). Please contact us at 615.674.5388 for information on other sponsorship levels.  

Main Barn Sponsorship
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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.

Our Mission
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.

Become a Friend of Franklin Parks!

Choose Your Level

“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

Our Projects
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. 

Learn more about our Projects.

The Harpeth River  by Tom Thomson

The Harpeth River by Tom Thomson


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


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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. 

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