Small Town Charm
In South Central Kentucky lies a little city that perfectly portrays the definition of small town charm. The city of Franklin is within Simpson County and is often referred to as Franklin-Simpson as those who live there use the combined title as their home whether they live right downtown or in the county. Franklin was founded in the 1800s and named after one of our nation’s founding fathers, Benjamin Franklin.
It is easy to see why Franklin-Simpson has been often described as one of the best 50 southern small towns. Franklin has proven to be a place where community matters. The locals believe that coming together and savoring tradition is important to keep those traditions alive for years to come.
The presence of community and togetherness is vibrant in Franklin-Simpson. Throughout the year there are several events that bring the community together to celebrate the history, the present, and the future of this small, charming town.
The Simpson County Courthouse is a landmark that sits in the center of Franklin’s Historical District. Franklin’s Downtown Square is without a doubt the heart of the Franklin community. In fact, Johnny Cash and June Carter Cash slipped away to Franklin for a quiet wedding in March of 1968 at the First United Methodist Church across from the courthouse. In this small town, the community comes together throughout the year for events that take place on the square.
Garden Spot 5k: Franklin-Simpson recently hosted their 35th Annual Garden Spot 5k Run and Walk which begins and ends on College Street right outside the Simpson County Courthouse in the town square. Each year members of the community, church teams, schools, local businesses and corporate companies get involved and come together to compete. This year’s Garden Spot was held on August 12, 2017 and brought over 1,200 people to downtown Franklin. The competition during the Garden Spot each year expands further than the fastest runners and walkers in each division. Families, churches, and businesses compete each year for the team challenge to have the most registered participants on their team. There is also Corporate Challenge, which allows for industrial companies to win an award based on the number of employees that participate.
Summer Nights Concert Series: A free concert series hosted by the Franklin-Simpson Renaissance Organization takes place on the square during the summer months.
Throughout the summer each year, amazing talents perform to entertain the crowds. Local businesses on the square extend their business hours during these concert nights and appreciate the support of those who attend. The square is equipped with the perfect dance floor at the pavilion and space for food vendors to ensure the crowd has the ideal environment to enjoy music, food, and socialization.
Festival on the Square- Antique Car Show: For over 50 years, residents and visitors to Franklin have enjoyed the Festival on the Square and Antique Car Show. This event is hosted annually by the Franklin-Simpson Chamber of Commerce. From handmade arts and crafts to flea market items, the setup on the historic downtown square has something for everyone. Entertainment for families includes children’s play area, picnic areas under the beautiful trees of the courthouse yard and live music throughout the weekend. This year will be the 55th Annual Car Show and will be held on September 15th and 16th.
History of Franklin
Octagon House Plantation was originally built in 1859 to accommodate Andrew Caldwell and his wife Harriet Caldwell. The handmade bricked building is easily noticed because of the unique eight-sided shape of the home. Its historical significance can be credited partially to its convenient location between Louisville and Nashville during the years of the Civil War. The plantation and the Octagon home have seen their share of both the Confederate Army and the Union Army and it has been said that throughout the war the house served as a sanctuary and hospital for both sides. After the death of the Caldwell’s, the plantation was sold and became marketed as rental property.
In 2001, it was converted from a long-time rental property to the Octagon Hall. For the Franklin-Simpson community it has become a historical place where they are able to restore and preserve town history which contributes to a bigger piece of state and national history. Octagon Hall is the only eight-sided building that stands in the state of Kentucky. Guests can take a tour of the uniquely shaped building and plantation year-round. There is even an opportunity to reserve the space for private events. In addition, Octagon Hall host events like the Annual Haunted Hall that runs every weekend in October and includes a tour of the plantation cemetery, a barn maze, food, and more. The Octagon Hall is just one of the many places that contribute to the beauty and character of small-town charm in Franklin, KY.
Sandford Duncan Inn
Dating back to 1818, the Sandford Duncan Inn is amongst the oldest if not the oldest log structure in Simpson County. When the Inn was built, its location was in Logan County as Simpson County was not formed until 1819. Sandford Duncan operated his home as a place for travelers to refresh themselves or rest for the night during their travels.
The Sandford Duncan Inn having a significant location near the Tennessee line, became a space for General’s during this early 1800s to practice dueling. The Inn has now been converted into an Interpretive Center and tours are available through the Simpson County Archives or Simpson County Tourism
A vibrant mural painted on a wall at the Franklin-Simpson County Tourism office depicts the history of Franklin. Running about 200 feet, this mural is a time capsule that captures the evolution of over 150 years of history. It took creator Carolyn Lanham 8 summers to complete the mural that attracts the eyes of community members and those passing through.
Originally opened in 1938, the Roxy Theatre was operated for over two decades as an 800-seat movie theater. As an iconic landmark in Franklin, many residents were disappointed to see it converted to municipal office space in the 1960s. The space has now been revamped and revived to carry out the history, sense of togetherness and small-town charm that it once had. The Roxy Theatre is currently an event center and concert hall where patrons host private events, wedding receptions, showers, and the occasional community theatre production.
Moore’s Drug Store, now The Frozen Spoon
Located on the south side of the town square at 115 West Cedar Street, stands a building familiar to all residents with a variety of reasons to visit. Founded in 1874, R.H. Moore Drug Company operated as a pharmacy and drug store. While known for the pharmacy and gift shop, many generations have known it best as the local soda fountain. As a lunch break for those who worked down town or a place to gather for students in the afternoon, the soda fountain was enjoyed by all who had the opportunity to experience its vintage style.
This historic building sat vacant for years until purchased by Klay Kelley, historically renovated, and earlier this year became the home of The Frozen Spoon, a frozen yogurt shop. Owners of The Frozen Spoon, Spencer and Katelyn Sexton, hoped to bring a new reason for patrons to come to the town square and enjoy a piece of Franklin’s hometown feel. While bringing a fresh face to downtown, the Sexton’s kept the history of the building by restoring the original fountain chairs and signage throughout the building.
Things to do
If you’re looking for a simple weekend getaway that feels like home or if you’re on a road trip driving down I-65 you will want to make Franklin, KY a part of your journey. There is much to see and do here:
Kenny Perry Golf Course
Franklin, KY is the home of pro-golfer Kenny Perry. Although he is a world traveling golf professional he keeps his small town involved. Since 1995, Franklin has been the home of the luxurious 18-hole, par 72 Kenny Perry Golf course. Scenically located over Drakes Creek Kenny Perry Golf Course offers a practice range, a pro shop for gear, a clubhouse, rental equipment, and a gallery of memorabilia where you can purchase autographed gear.
Kentucky Downs Track & Gaming Facility
Welcome to the ultimate gaming experience where the gaming facility and horse track are wrapped in one. Aside from an everyday gaming experience the Kentucky Downs also offers special live horse racing events during the month of September.
Gallery on the Square
The Gallery on the Square has 6 rotating exhibits a year. It features original art created by regional and local artists. September and October’s gallery exhibits have the theme “Footed in Agriculture.” The gallery also has organization and club meetings that allow community members to come together and work with their hands.
Franklin Drive-In Theatre
The appreciation of drive-in theatres has seen a decrease over the years, but Franklin, KY hasn’t lost its touch. The Franklin Drive-In has been operational since 1969 and enjoyed by those from all across the country. Featuring first run movies from the big screen as well as doing special features, the drive-in has the capacity to hold approximately 500 cars and continues to sell out most weekends.
African American Heritage Center
Located in the Harristown neighborhood, Franklin-Simpson offers history of many forms like the African American Heritage Center. This center is the headquarters for academic research of African American achievement and a better understanding of the African American community and culture in Simpson county’s growth. Open to the public, the AAHC is nationally registered as a historical place and stands as a “Cultural Education Facility.”
Franklin-Simpson Industrial Development
Franklin has been involved in the manufacturing industry since its inception in the early 1950’s. Major industrial parks in and around Franklin-Simpson such as Wilkey North Industrial Park, Quail Ridge Industrial Park and Sanders Interstate Industrial Park host over 40 industrial plants. Franklin’s manufacturing industry employs nearly 4,000 people. Although this town is small they compete with the largest manufacturing cities in the state.
Their industrial development is competitive and efficient and this brings the Franklin-Simpson community recognition from many factory companies contributing to bringing jobs and economic stability. As the manufacturing industry continues to evolve and grow in Franklin-Simpson the community togetherness has not been lost.
“Our recent success has also resulted in a significant increase in construction of both single family and multi-family housing in Franklin and Simpson County,” says Gary Broady, CEO of Franklin Bank & Trust Co. and Chairman of the Franklin Simpson Industrial Authority. Broady credits the community for the continual growth, “Our success in the area with obtaining additional industry is a collective effort. The Industrial Authority, the City of Franklin, the County of Simpson, the Franklin-Simpson Chamber of Commerce, the Simpson County School System, the Southern Kentucky Community and Technical College, as well as other groups and organizations all contribute to our efforts in attracting industries and other significant employers to our area.”
Places to Stay
Baymont Inn & Suites
Best Western Franklin Inn
Comfort Inn and Suites
Dad’s Bluegrass Campground
Holiday Inn Express & Suites
Shaker Tavern B & B
Places to Shop
Bright’s Antique World
Classic Image Antiques
The Mustard Seed Market
Franklin Mercantile Co.
Goody’s Department Store
The Goldsmith Shoppe
Franklin Sporting Goods
The Gallery on the Square
The Painted Pearl
Heritage Antique Mall
Small Town Primitives
Strictly Country Antique Mall
The Country Store
Violin in the Attic Music
Places to Eat
4 Soils Coffee Cafe & Bakery
Brickyard Cafe Franklin
Franklin Steak House
New China Restaurant
Oasis Southwest Grill
Overtime Sports Bar & Grill
Sol Azteca Mexican
Tanglewood Farms Market & Deli
The Hot Plate
Wildfire BBQ and Grill