McLemore House museum celebrates new exhibits, regular hours


McLemore House museum celebrates new exhibits, regular hours

By CLIFF HIGHTOWER

The McLemore House African-American Museum in Franklin now will be open regular hours, starting Friday.

Community members gathered on the porch of the historic home Wednesday morning to celebrate the news.

“We’ve had problems in the past of someone manning the house,” said Rick Warwick, Williamson County Historian.

The museum will now be open 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays with a $10 admission charge.

Alma McLemore, president of the African-American Heritage Society of Williamson County, said she is glad the home will now have regular hours, so people can visit it.

“It has a profound story,” she said.

The home belonged to Harvey McLemore, an ex-slave who became a successful farmer and businessman. The house is the only slave-built home still standing in Franklin, Warwick said.

The house was saved from demolition in the late 1990s and the African-American Heritage Society now owns the property. Through donations the house has been restored and Middle Tennessee State University helped outfit the home with new pop-ups that tell the stories of African-American slaves before and during the Civil War.

The house was built in 1880 in the predominantly black community of Hard Bargain. The same family owned the property until 1997.

“It’s important this story be told,” Warwick said.

Dr. Van West, Tennessee State Historian and director of Middle Tennessee State University’s Center for Historic Preservation, said it is extremely important for the house to now be open regularly.

It will mean a “stronger and more inclusive Franklin,” he said.

He said the house helps bring meaning to the past of what slaves went through before, during and after the Civil War.

“This house, at one time, people thought should just go away,” he said.

Associate Editor Cliff Hightower can be reached at cliff.hightower@homepagemediagroup.com or follow him on Twitter @CliffHightower.

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