Discover Phil and Heather Joel’s Delightful Shop – The Green Room

Phil and Heather Joel – The Green Room

One of Franklin’s most beloved couples, Phil and Heather Joel, have made a beautiful life together. They are also celebrating their first anniversary as merchants on America’s Favorite Main Street. Their fabulous shop, The Green Room, at 346 Main Street has become one of downtown Franklin’s most exciting new destinations for both locals and visitors. To commemorate this festive milestone, they created a new scent called their “Happy Birthday” collection of candles, organic fragrances and room sprays. The yummy fragrance is like a marriage between Fruit Loops and a vanilla cupcake.

Locals, you may have seen the Joels walking their dog, Fiona, down the sidewalks around Franklin. Phil is highly recognizable with his long flowing blond hair. Heather is lovely, kind, and down-to-earth.

From Phil’s rockstar status to Heather’s rockstar candles, we are thrilled to tell you their backstory. We will also share the fascinating history of one of downtown Franklin’s most exquisite buildings they’ve turned into a retail sanctuary. 

Phil Joel and the Newsboys

Phil Joel – The Green Room

It all started in Wichita, Kansas, Heather’s hometown. Phil was on tour with Newboys, a Christian rock band founded in 1985 in Queensland, Australia, now based in Nashville. An Auckland native, Phil played bass guitar, sang vocals, and helped write some of the band’s biggest hits.

The Newsboys’ tour brought Phil to the Wichita radio station Heather worked. She was handling promotions for their show. “Phil came into the station on the day of the show. and we instantly hit it off,” recounts Heather.

The Magic of Main Street!

We started talking on the phone and writing letters, and when I finally went to visit him in Nashville, he took me to Franklin. We pulled onto Main Street and it was MAGIC! Instantly we both knew that this was home.” 

Franklin Tennessee Trenton Lee Photography | Lovely Franklin
Trenton Lee Photography

Phil and Heather have lived in downtown Franklin ever since they got married in 1996. They have raised their two (now adult) kids here, Phynley and Eden. Jointly, they share a passion for taking care of the environment and God’s creation.

With Phil being from picturesque New Zealand, honoring the environment was a natural part of his growing up. The island country has 13 national parks, and about one-third of its land area is protected in parks and reserves.

Heather says, “Having kids in their early 20’s who deeply care about the world they’re living in, the whole idea of caring for our planet and the people that live on this great green marble makes even more sense to us now than ever before.”

Eco-Friendly” is The Green Room’s Middle Name

The Green Room

“The Green Room concept is that every room of the house is represented with earth-friendly products that are connected to people doing cool things around the globe. We’re all going to buy gifts for friends and family, and we all want clean, beautiful home environments, so why not spend money on things that make a difference for the planet and for the people living here?”

That passion evolved into an idea for creating a retail space in 2021. The Joels rented an upstairs room at City Farmhouse and began selling eco-friendly products. Heather says, “It was perfect for us and allowed us time to figure out how far we wanted to take the concept. Kim and David, owners of City Farmhouse, were so encouraging, and saw what our store could be even before we did. 

“I remember Kim saying ‘I think you should go for it; this idea needs to be on Main Street.’  We decided she was right and went nuts trying to find a building. We knocked on every door and spoke to every building owner and landlord in town. Nothing was available. It was brutal, and we nearly gave up until one day we caught a whisper that the pizza restaurant Pieology might be thinking about leaving. It was the break we needed, and after about six months we got the keys.”  

“Everything in the shop has a story,” says Phil. “It’s all connected to somebody who is doing something good for the planet and for people.” Outside, you’ll discover cherry tomato plants they encourage you to pick from during the spring/summer months. Inside, you’ll discover earth-friendly and delightfully sustainable gifts that serve the planet and people with care and consideration.

The Green Room got its name from the space in a theater or venue that serves as a waiting room and lounge for performers when they are not on stage. With Heather’s background in television and theater, and Phil’s music background, they’ve both spent a lot of time backstage in green rooms. The origin of the term comes from the fact that these rooms were historically painted green.

Now that same talent has been passed onto their children. Their daughter Phynley is in film and television and their son Eden is also a musician, so green rooms continue to be a part of our lives. You might get lucky and see Phynley working in the family business on days she is helping at the store.

“The idea of combining our love of clean, green, earth friendly products with a music/theater term just fit,” explained Heather.  From rock star coasters made from recycled windshields to vinyl records to honor Phil’s love of music, every product has a story. Local record club, Blind Tiger has even partnered with The Green Room to open the Blind Tiger Vinyl Lounge. It’s filled with new vinyl records, turntables, collector editions, books on music, and wearables.

Blind Tiger Vinyl Lounge at The Green Room

The Green Room has an eclectic merchandise mix. We are especially fond of their fabulous SMEG small appliance collection and gorgeous tableware items.

Their vision for The Green Room is for everyone, no matter who you are or where you are from to feel welcomed and at home in their space. In addition, the Joel family wants this to be a place where people can find unique, affordable, fair trade, people and planet-centered products that are clean, healthy, sustainably sourced, and made with love. 

A Candle Mecca – Hand-Poured in Franklin with Love

Unexpectedly, candles have been their most popular product!Being in the candle business has been the biggest surprise ever. It was actually kind of an accident!

“We knew we wanted a candle line for the store and tried forever to find a brand that was a perfect fit. But couldn’t find exactly what we were wanting. Turns out it was a challenge to find 100% soy wax candles with fragrances that are non-toxic, skin safe, and authentic to us. 

“So we began experimenting with making them ourselves. It literally took ages! Our kitchen and living room were blown up for months while we worked on the formulas.

“We opened our store last year with five original scents thinking they’d be a fun little ‘moment’ in the corner somewhere, but after the first couple of weeks being open. we realized that these candles were becoming a hit. We’ve since quadrupled our production and have now added organic room sprays and organic colognes to our product range.”

It’s tough for Heather to choose a favorite scent since she loves them all, but if she had to pick one, it would be the scent that started it all…Fresh Cut Grass. The Green Room’s best-selling scent is the “Franklin” candle. We at Lovely Franklin especially love the Franklin candle, along with Passion Fruit & Coconut and their seasonal scents, Love You Super Muchly and Banana Nut Bread. 

The very best part of The Green Room’s candles, room sprays, colognes, and bath bombs is that they are handmade right here in Franklin, Tennessee!

“Every House and Building Has Its Own Unique Story”

The Joels love historic homes and their stories as much as we at Lovely Franklin do. Heather explains it so well, “Every house and building has its own unique story and personality and provides an authentic welcoming experience that you feel when you come here. I think the depth of history and heritage here gives us all a deeper sense of connectedness and somehow it goes beyond the buildings and history.”

Their family lives on a gorgeous tree-lined street with charming historic homes. New people realize, when you come to Franklin you fall in love with the town, as well as the people. Heather expounds, “We literally have the most wonderful neighbors ever – we are all different generationally, politically, and with varied religious backgrounds, but we love and enjoy each other and see each other’s value, and to us, that’s what makes Franklin so fantastic.”

Second French Empire Style Architecture

Second Empire French Architecture – Franklin, Tenn.

It’s so fitting that The Green Room is truly in one of the prettiest Victorian-era buildings on Main Street. The shop is located in what used to be known as Rolff’s Corner. It is one of the oldest and most elegant buildings on Main Street because of its Second Empire architecture. This French-style design is reminiscent of one of our favorite homes on 3rd Avenue South – the Watson House designed by Hugh Cathcart Thompson, architect for the Ryman Auditorium and the Cumberland Presbyterian Church. The construction of that church even mentions Mr. J. H. Rolff contributing to the “Slate, Tin and Galvanized Iron Work”.

When you visit The Green Room, take a moment to not only admire its interior brick walls, but also the breathtaking exterior of the building. Its Second Empire architectural style was dominant internationally during the second half of the 19th century. Emperor Napoleon III, nephew of Napoleon I, chose Baron Haussman to carry out a massive urban renewal program of new boulevards, parks and public works in Paris. This style features mansard roofs, arched dormers, and heavily bracketed eaves.

Phynley Joel with Grandin Hood’s book Historic Franklin Tennessee

In 2009, local Franklin’s Pulitzer Prize-winning photographer Robin Hood and founder of Grandin Hood Publishers, released the wonderful book entitled Historic Franklin Tennessee. The book’s cover features this magnificent building that is now home to The Green Room and Chico’s.

From Franklin to Disney World, Victorian-era Buildings Charm Us All

City Hall, Walt Disney World – Second Empire architectural design

Walt Disney also loved the styles of Victorian-era buildings having grown up in Marceline, Missouri near the beginning of the 1900s. In fact, he fashioned Main Street Disneyland and Disney World after this era. He and his imagineers designed Main Street using a combination of periods, including its City Hall, which was a Second Empire French design, as well as other buildings highlighting Queen Anne Victorian, Renaissance Revival, Carpenter Gothic, and Greek Revival architecture.

4th Avenue and Main Street (1938)

Rolff’s Corner and a Long History of Successful Merchants

As mentioned, this building was once known as Rolff’s Corner after John Henry Rolffs, one of Franklin’s longest standing merchants. Mr. Rolffs was born in Hanover, Germany and moved here with his family when he was just five years old.

McClure’s, a high-end Nashville department store chain, was once located at 346 Main Street

John Henry Rolffs and his wife Mary Pugh Rolffs lived in Franklin on Lewisburg Avenue. Mrs. Rolffs’ obituary was quite splendid and worth noting. “Mary Pugh Rolffs was a great lover of the beautiful and her home was always surrounded by flowers and rare plants that seemed to grow at her bidding. Throughout her home, there were evidences of lovely and dainty handiwork that she did with the skill of an artist. Her home was her paradise and all who entered the hospitable door felt the sincere welcome that greeted them. She was a splendid musician, having been the organist a number of years at the Methodist church here of which she was a devoted member and faithful and loyal wife for over fifty years.”

Henry Rolffs Cannon and Sarah, aka Minnie Pearl

Henry and Sarah Cannon Minnie Pearl
Henry Rolffs Cannon and Sarah Coley Cannon, aka Minnie Pearl

We believe it’s only fitting that The Green Room is connected with Mrs. Mary and her love for plants, music, and beauty. She and Henry even had a famous grandson, Henry Rolffs Cannon who was married to the wonderful Sarah Coley Cannon, aka Minnie Pearl. Miss Minnie was a beloved comedian who appeared on the Grand Ole Opry for more than 50 years and on the television show Hee Haw. Sarah’s grandparents lived on West Main in this wonderful historic home featured exclusively on Lovely Franklin.

Main Street Franklin between 4th Avenue and Public Square

Mr. Rolffs often said he had lived in Franklin long enough to see practically every building on Main Street destroyed by fire at one time or another. Interestingly, the building adjacent to The Green Room is the Hanner Building. It had a fire at one time and got a facelift during its restoration. It’s Art Deco style facade is a sharp contrast to its neighboring Second French Empire building, making it esthetically world’s apart from The Gilded Age.

McClure’s Department Store

Many Franklities remember when The Green Room building was McClure’s, a high-end Nashville department store chain. During the 1960s Franklin’s Main Street had been hurt by malls and the buildings started covering their facades. Awnings hid much of the beauty of these buildings.

The Making of America’s Favorite Main Street

The making of “America’s Favorite Main Street” was not an accident. In fact, in the 1970s and ’80s, it was on the decline. Thanks to visionaries like Rudy Jordan, Mary Pearce, and Margaret Martin, a historic zoning board was created and streetscaping was adopted in Franklin, bricking the streets and installing lamp posts and landscaping. 

Main Street before streetscaping.

Rudy Jordan was a member of the Heritage Foundation and helped form the Downtown Franklin Association. Rudy worked with building owners who led the charge to save Main Street with historic zoning and streetscaping. She also started the first Main Street festivals to bring new visitors to town, and even helped Franklin win the Great American Main Street Award in 1995. 

These visionaries curated downtown Franklin with a mix of local merchants and popular retailers who helped revive the economy so merchants, like the Joels, are now thriving on Main Street. 

Gray's on Main Franklin TN
Trenton Lee Photography

We asked Phil and Heather their favorite downtown businesses. Heather says, “My ‘go to’ gift stores are Tin Cottage and White’s Mercantile, along with City Farmhouse for unique and beautiful home decor and antiques.

For local eateries, Heather applauds, “Merridees for early morning coffee with friends, Franklin Mercantile for a YUM salad bar moment, Triple Crown Bakery for New Zealand Pavlova and T-OP, the best poke bowl place in the greater Nashville area, and it’s right here in our hood!”

She and Phil’s favorite outings include kayaking on the Harpeth River, chill walks at Pinkerton Park and stocking up on the most delicious tomatoes ever at Reed’s Produce.

“Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious…..for real!

We asked Heather to describe Franklin in one word, and she exclaimed, “Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious…..for real!”

City Farmhouse – 117 3rd Avenue North, Franklin, Tenn.

It’s truly a Divine connection for me personally, because I first met Phil and Heather when they had their little shop inside City Farmhouse. Little did we know, that two years later, at the top of that marvelous staircase, Lovely Franklin would also call that same little room our very own office. Located inside the historic 1815 Knight-Mosley home within the City Farmhouse community at 117 3rd Avenue North, we share this charming old home with Navah Home Designs, and 503 Bloomhouse.

Lovely Franklin could not be more proud to have incredible people like Phil and Heather Joel be a part of our thriving community. We applaud them for helping make Main Street a vibrant retail experience, stewarding a historic home and building, and spreading love to all the locals who call Franklin home as well as the visitors who come their way. 

Thank you as always to Williamson County Historian Rick Warwick for allowing us access to his collection of historic photos. We also appreciate Victoria Pewitt Photography and her beautiful photography of The Green Room.

Make sure to visit this wonderful planet-friendly store, find a favorite candle, and take in the history of the glorious building they call home. Check out their online store here.

For upcoming events follow The Green Room here. Watch for their monthly open mic nights with local students representing the area high schools.

Sharing the backstories of historic Franklin with love,

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