“How-deeeeee! I’m just so proud to be here!” There is only one woman who is associated with that famous greeting. What if we told you America’s beloved Minnie Pearl’s mother, Fannie House Colley, started out at 1051 W. Main Street in Franklin, Tennessee?
The Prettiest Queen Anne Victorian for the Belle of the Ball
Sarah’s mother’s parents, William and Ophelia House, lived in this stunning 1873 Queen Anne Victorian beauty after they got married. William was a prominent lawyer in Franklin for twenty-five years. They were popular in social, professional, and religious circles. Ophelia was a well-educated and accomplished pianist. They had eight children, including Sarah’s mother, Fannie.
For the past thirty years, this historic home has been occupied by Dr. John and Barbara Faccia. They have recently made the decision to sell so a new family can make wonderful memories. Originally from Italy, Dr. Faccia and Barbara, who is Canadian, enjoyed raising their two daughters here, along with their dog, Annie, and parrot, Elliot Nest.
William House’s brother Dr. Samuel J. House lived at 812 W. Main Street, just a couple blocks from his brother. Dr. House was very beloved in the community as well.
From “Minnie Pearl: An Autobiography,” Sarah described her parent’s hometown, “Franklin was a sophisticated, social little town, and still is. It was settled around 1799, much earlier than Centerville, which made it very different. The lifestyle in Franklin is steeped in old Southern tradition, lovely homes, and gracious living. Aristocracy is more important than money, though the latter certainly isn’t shunned. Daddy always said Mama was ‘the belle of Franklin and she never quit ringing’.”
Virginia Colley McDaniel Bowman and Her Passion for Williamson County History
After Thomas Colley married Fannie, they moved to Centerville so Thomas could continue in the lumber business with his brother and father.
Sarah’s parents Thomas Kelley Colley and Fannie Tate House Colley had five girls, Frances, Virginia, Mary, and Dixie. Sarah was the youngest. It’s no wonder she became a comedian being the baby in the family. Sarah was named “Sarah” after her father’s sister, and “Ophelia” after her mother’s mother. Her sisters called her Ophie, and the rest of her family nicknamed her “Phelia”.
In Sarah’s autobiography, she explained, “Grandfather House was a graduate of the University of Virginia and a very popular attorney in Franklin, and had become successful at an early age. He had sent mother to what was then one of the best finishing schools in Tennessee, and I doubt that he much liked the idea of his beautiful, social daughter going off to live in rugged frontier country.”
They raised all five girls in Centerville, and Sarah would go on to Ward-Belmont College in Nashville. She majored in theater and dance.
Sarah’s oldest sister, Frances, had one girl, Virginia Colley McDaniel Bowman, and one boy, Gordon Hicks McDaniel, Jr., who also lives here. Virginia became a very important figure in Franklin history. She was a charter member of the Williamson County Historical Society, and served as the Williamson County Historian and Franklin City Historian.
In 1971, she authored “Historic Williamson County: Old Homes and Sites”, which features 180 important places. It is out of print, so if you’re lucky, you may still find a used copy for sale. Virginia also signed the Articles of Incorporation for the Carnton Association.
You can even see this actual cannon named “Virginia” in her honor on the northwest side of Franklin’s public square!
Henry Cannon – Grandson of John B. McEwen, Mayor of Franklin
In 1947, Sarah married a local Franklin boy, Henry Cannon. Henry came from a prominent Franklin family and spent part of his childhood and young adult life at Wyatt Hall, one of the oldest homes off Franklin Road built around 1805 and across from Harlinsdale Farm. He attended Battle Ground Academy. Henry was the great grandson of John B. McEwen, the Mayor of Franklin during the Civil War. He had a twin sister, Alice, and a younger sister, Jennie.
Henry was a pilot in the Pacific Ocean during WWII, and later owned an air charter service. He flew for Eddy Arnold, Hank Williams, Webb Pierce, and Elvis Presley, just to name a few. Henry later became Sarah’s manager and her pilot.
“They were devoted to each other and had a very unique and powerful love story,” says Nashville attorney Dudley West, nephew of Henry Cannon.
Sarah, aka Minnie Pearl would go on to have a 50-year career as a comedian on the Grand Ole Opry and spent over 20 years on the television show Hee Haw.
Follow along as we share the story of Sarah’s grandparent’s home at 1051 W. Main Street, along with all the interesting stories of Henry and Sarah’s Franklin roots.
The House That Love Built
This post-Civil War home is located in Franklin’s first residential neighborhood. The 53-acre Hincheyville Historic District was named after Hinchey Petway, a wealthy Franklin merchant, who sold his farm that was later subdivided in 1819.
The home is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The houses are along West Main Street and Fair Street from 7th to 11th Avenues.
This 1873 historic beauty known as “Oaklawn” has 5,937 sq. ft. of living space with four large bedrooms and four and half bathrooms. The exterior of the two-story home has a fabulous turret (tower) and asymmetrical L-shaped front porch which was typical of Queen Anne design.
The home is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. There are six incredible working fireplaces in the home with original mantels including a carved stone mantel in the library.
As you enter the foyer, you can see the original brass chandelier that’s almost 150 years old. The walnut staircase has the original newel post.
Some of the other beautiful features include a gracious staircase, glass doorknobs, original hardwood floors, doors and windows.
At one point, an addition was made to the back of the home to add additional floor space and connect the back staircase inside the new den area.
Part of the hardwood floors were replaced a century ago with wood from a 19th century casket factory in Mississippi. They are 4” tongue and groove pine. A good portion of the front of the house has the original floors.
The Victorian-style curtains are period and the lace drags on the floor. It was said that back in the day, the more material you used on your curtains, the wealthier you were!
Most of the antiques in the home are from the Victorian era. The transom windows above the doors allowed for air flow before air conditioning was invented.
A unique feature that was added when the kitchen was remodeled is the brick arched wall over the stove. These were brick pavers from Vanderbilt University, and reused in the home to make the kitchen more rustic and homey.
Another fun fact and country music connection with Sarah’s grandparent’s home is that in 1993, Ricky Skaggs did a Nutrisystem commercial in the foyer that was distributed regionally on television.
Just imagine all the fascinating children and adults who traveled this lovely staircase over the years.
The home sits on a 1.16 acre lot in the heart of historic downtown Franklin. There is even a glass-enclosed Florida room with a patio and fountains in the rear and plenty of room for a pool or tennis court. Franklin’s other Southern Belle, Marie Jordan, used to play tennis with Sarah in Belle Meade. Read the backstory of Marie’s historic home here.
Other Significant Franklin Places Connected to the Cannon’s and Colley’s
There are so many sweet connections between both Henry and Sarah around Franklin. You will enjoy these homes and their backstories as well.
The Harris-McEwen House
Henry’s Great Grandfather John B. McEwen lived here in this magnificent house on Fair Street. He was the Mayor of Franklin during the time of the Civil War. Read our backstory on the Harris-McEwen House here.
The Watson House
This magnificent house was originally built for Susan Catherine “Kitty” Puryear Watson in 1881. The style is Second French Empire French Victorian and features a splendid mansard roof. Sarah’s Cousin Ruthie Pointer Brown Cherry used to play piano for her when she would come visit the Watson House. Her favorite song to hear was “The Days of Wine and Roses”. Ruthie and Henry’s twin sister Alice were best friends.
Ellen Smith now lives here in this grand home. Amazingly, Ellen is a distant cousin of Sarah’s and John Overton, the founder of Memphis. The most incredible thing about the Watson House is that it was designed by Hugh Cathcart Thompson, the architect who designed the Ryman Auditorium, how appropriate for Minnie Pearl to visit. Read our backstory on the Watson House here.
The Fleming-Hyatt House
This gorgeous blue Queen Anne Victorian was built in 1907 by Sam Fleming, Sr. He founded the Fleming Grain Company. His wife, Cynthia Cannon Fleming was Henry’s aunt. Henry’s daddy, William Perkins Cannon, was Cynthia’s youngest brother. Their son, Sam Fleming, Jr. was a highly successful bank executive and philanthropist. He was the president and chairman of the Third National Bank of Nashville from 1950-1973, helping finance major companies like HCA, along with the country music industry.
Cynthia, the daughter of Virginia “Jennie” McEwen, was a strong and influential woman who came from a long line of distinguished Tennesseans. Her grandfather was John B. McEwen, mayor of Franklin during the Civil War, and she was also the great-granddaughter of Newton Cannon, governor of Tennessee. The State of Tennessee even named Cannon County after him!
The Fleming home is now owned by Michael and Gail Hyatt. Michael is the former CEO and Chairman of Thomas Nelson Publishers, and presently the Founder and Chairman of Michael Hyatt & Co.
United Methodist Church
Sarah’s grandparents, William and Ophelia House, were members of this historic Methodist Church here in downtown Franklin. I wonder if Ophelia ever played piano?
May We Never Forget Their Legacy
Henry and Sarah Cannon are buried at Mt. Hope Cemetery in Franklin. Sarah Ophelia Colley Cannon (October 25, 1912 – March 4, 1996) will always be remembered for her quick wit, her spirited personality, and her love of people.
Historian and Sarah’s niece Virginia Colley McDaniel Bowman (October 16, 1923 – February 3, 2018) will continue to be remembered as Williamson County’s beloved historian. After her retirement, Rick Warwick took her place as Williamson County Historian along with his role at the Heritage Foundation. He considered Virginia a very dear friend and mentor. Read our backstory on Rick Warwick here.
We are thrilled to be able to share the story of 1051 W. Main Street in Franklin, and the incredible legacy of these important Tennesseans who had a connection with this home. We hope the next owners will cherish it as much as we do, and be “just so proud to be here.”
Many thanks to Trenton Lee Photography for these great photos of the home, Rick Warwick for the historic photos, and Sarah Cannon’s family for her personal photos.
We are Lovely Franklin,