The Historic Franklin Masonic Hall in Franklin will host the lecture series Race and Reconciliation: A Conversation for Consideration, at 6 p.m. on Wednesday, Nov. 16, 2016.
Three local historians and community activists will come together to converse and candidly discuss the issues surrounding race and reconciliation from the Civil War to the Civil Rights movement.
The Historic Franklin Masonic Hall invites the community to attend.
Along with Rachael Finch, Preservation Consultant for the Historic Franklin Masonic Hall and Principal of Engage Preservation Consulting, guest speakers will include Pearl Bransford, Alderman At Large for the City of Franklin and community activist, and Tina Calahan Jones, lawyer, historian and blogger, specializing in the research on former slaves who joined the United States Colored Troops from Williamson County, Tenn. The conversation will focus on Franklin and Williamson County’s significant ties to difficult history, speak frankly on its history and discuss new methodologies for educating the public on the underserved and often misunderstood parts of our history.
Prior to the lecture, coffee and light refreshments will be served.
The lecture series is free and open to the public.
The Masonic Hall’s significance as a location
The Historic Franklin Masonic Hall remains one of the last surviving examples of early Gothic Revival architecture in Middle Tennessee. At the time of construction, c. 1823 to 1826, its three stories made it the tallest building in Franklin.
The Hall served a dual purpose; the first floor became Franklin’s first public meeting space, while the second and third floors were reserved for the Masons.
First established in 1809, Hiram Masonic Lodge No. 7 has occupied the Hall since 1826, and is one of the oldest Lodges to reside continuously at the same location in the United States. In 1830, President Andrew Jackson traveled to the Hall and met with the Chickasaw Nation delegation with intent to establish a peace treaty that, unfortunately, would never be ratified by Congress, leading to the Trail of Tears.
In May of 1861 at the onset of the Civil War, many prominent, local Confederate men became Master Masons before heading off to battle. Several, including Confederate Captain Tod Carter, would die on the battlefield and never return to the Hall. Systematic Union occupation, along with transformation into a field hospital during the Battle of Franklin, left the building in exceedingly poor condition.
It was not until 1913, when the Masons finally received war reparations from the Federal government that the Hall would resemble its pre-war appearance. In 1867, the Hall intimately observed the Franklin race riots and the development of one of the first African-American neighborhoods in Franklin just a block away.
During World War I, the National Guard commandeered the first floor into an armory. By 1972, the Hall received a listing on the National Register for Historic Places and became a National Historic Landmark in 1973.