Williamson County Historian Rick Warwick is a Tennessee Treasure!

Misty Westebbe Photography

Williamson County Historian Rick Warrick is passionate. His passion – the history of Franklin, Tennessee and Williamson County.

We had the pleasure of meeting Rick recently at his office at the old county jail. It now houses The Heritage Foundation – the organization that works to preserve Williamson County’s rich history.

Rick is a Walking Encyclopedia of Everything Franklin

Of course, Rick Warwick knows everything about Franklin rich history, including the Civil War, but he also knows the stories of generations of families who have lived in the many lovely old homes in downtown Franklin. His memory is astounding.

Not only is he a genius, but he’s hilarious. Yet another reason to meet this Franklin gem.

From School Teacher to Librarian to Historian

When asked what got him interested in history, Rick laughed and said, “Well, it was about the only subject I was good at in school.” His father had been a carpenter, and he said he knew he didn’t want to do that. So, during his Senior year of high school, he decided to go to MTSU and major in History and Library Science. 

Rick’s first teaching job was 6th grade history. His wife, Elaine, taught 4th grade. Both of them were school teachers in the Millersville, Tennessee school system. A few years later, they decided to leave their home in Hendersonville and move to Franklin in 1970. Lucky for us!

Elaine got a job in Fairview teaching 2nd grade, and Rick went back to MTSU to get his Masters. Rick then took a job teaching high school history and civics at Hillsboro School in Leiper’s Fork. The next year he began working as the school librarian and stayed in that position for many years.

The Heritage Foundation

After his retirement from Hillsboro, Rick took on the role of Williamson County Historian for the Heritage Foundation. He was the perfect choice for this important position. Since then, Rick has worked over 20 years without pay. What an honorable contribution he has been to the county.

The Heritage Foundation began in 1967 after the historic Corn antebellum house was torn down to build a gas station. Citizens knew they could not allow for another significant and beautiful home or building to be destroyed. 

Misty Westebbe Photography

The Foundation began working with the city of Franklin on zoning laws and getting places like Downtown Franklin on the National Register of Places.

If you currently live or are considering buying a historic home in Franklin, check out Franklin’s Preservation Program for information about zoning laws and making changes to your property.

The Battle of Franklin

The city of Franklin is historically significant because it was the location of The Battle of Franklin, fought on November 30, 1864. Rick explains that the Battle of Franklin is considered the “Gettysburg of the West.” In four hours, the battle left almost 10,000 soldiers wounded, captured or killed. 

It was one of the worst disasters for the Confederate Army in the Civil War. Franklin has three historical homes that are available for tours including the Carnton Plantation, the Carter House, and the Lotz House. 

These tours are important for all of us to understand the past and how it has shaped our present. We cannot forget the struggles and pain of the past, and we should most certainly learn from them.

To help us learn about Franklin’s fascinating history, Rick has collected thousands of photos of Williamson County. In addition, he has written several books including “Franklin’s Public Square: A Pictorial History,” “A Walk Down West Main Street,” “North and East of Franklin’s Public Square: A Pictorial Tour,” plus many others.

The New Franklin

The city of Franklin is so much more than her past. Yes, understanding and appreciating her past is essential. But appreciating who she is today is equally important. Our thriving downtown is known as “America’s Favorite Main Street.” There are so many bustling shops, restaurants and attractions to make for a weekend get-away or a week’s full of fun.

You can find Rick every morning for coffee with his buddies at Merridee’s Breadbasket. For over 40 years, he and his wife Elaine, have lived in a 1831 cedar log home on Warwick’s Knob off Southall Road.

Meet Franklin’s Favorite Historian

As Franklin continues to grow, see more farms sold, and new construction continue, we are grateful to have people like Rick Warwick who are a Tennessee treasure. His service to the county, and his commitment to teaching and preserving its history is unparalleled.

When asked how he would describe his beloved Franklin, he said, “It’s a historic town located on the banks of the Harpeth River. It’s the capital of Williamson County, and it’s a great place to live and rear a family.”

Visit Franklin

I hope you will take the time to go visit the Heritage Foundation and tour the old jail. It’s been renovated for the historical society meeting and serves as a fabulous museum that is full of great photos and interesting trivia.  If you have the opportunity to meet Rick Warwick, let him know how much he means to all of us.

Stop by the Heritage Foundation to tour the old jail at 112 Bridge Street in Franklin. You can pick up a copy of one of Rick’s books and see the many old photos Rick has collected showcasing Williamson County’s rich heritage.

Rick Warwick – another reason we call this “Lovely Franklin.” Watch Rick share Franklin’s preservation story in the video below.

We are Lovely Franklin,

Lovely Franklin Brandon and Buffie

About Lovely Franklin

About Brandon

About Buffie

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