Celebrating 225 Years in Franklin Video Series

Episode 1: Where We Began – An Introduction with Senior Pastor Bryan Brooks

Episode 2: Lineage & Legacy – An Interview with Our Historians Part 1 of 2

Episode 3: Lineage & Legacy – An Interview with Our Historians Part 2 of 2

Episode 4: Around the Table – A Discussion with Non-Profit Community Leaders


to 1829

1st Avenue & Church Street

Our First Location

Franklin founder Abram Maury provided land for a Methodist church at the time of the city’s founding, making this the oldest worshipping congregation in Franklin and Williamson County.

On October 26-The General Assembly of Tennessee established Franklin “according to the original plan of said town” as “laid off” in 1798 by Abram Maury “on his land on the Harpeth River.”  Maury set apart a plot for a “Methodist Meeting House on the easten side of East Margin (now First Avenue) and directly opposite the eastern end of Church Street. This site is located adjacent to the old Lillie Flour Mill silos.

There is no photograph of this location, but we know that Francis Asbury once spoke here and recorded in his journal about a “neat little brick building along the Harpeth.” Based on other written accounts we’ve uncovered we know it likely included two fireplaces and was a simple structure.

  • On this day in 1799, the City of Franklin was founded by Abram Maury as well as Williamson County

  • A “Methodist Society” was organized in Franklin and a one-story brick building was raised on the east side of 1st Avenue at the end of Church Street.

  • Bishop Francis Asbury, the founding bishop of American Methodism, preached at Franklin First UMC on November 4, 1812.


to 1871

2nd Avenue & Church Street

Our Second Location

In 1827 the church purchased land to build the second location of the Methodist Church in Franklin on the northeast corner of 2nd Avenue and Church Street. We moved into this church by 1830.

  • This 2nd location of the Methodist Church, like most large structures, was occupied by Federal troops and served as a hospital following the Battle of Franklin.  The congregation had no pastor under appointment during the war years since the Tennessee Conference was unable to meet during that interval. Rev. H.B. North, a conference member and resident of Franklin, voluntarily filled the pulpit.

    During the War, church records, documents, and membership information were destroyed.

  • It took 3 years to construct the church on 2nd Avenue.

  • October 1866, E.M. Bounds becomes the pastor of Franklin Methodist Episcopal Church South and would serve this congregation until October of 1868.

    Rev. E.M. Bounds raised money for the Missouri regiment’s marker. He carried a small list of his lost Missouri boys in his wallet for the rest of his life.

  • Standing opposite the second church site sits the former black church that the Northern Methodists built as a mission church for former slaves. The building still exists and the inscription on the cornerstone reads “Wiley Memorial M.E. Church”. It is currently the home to the Pull Tight Players. The AME church would assume ownership of this church.


to Present

5th Avenue & Church Street

Our Third Location

The present Historic Sanctuary church lot was bought in the spring of 1869 from the heirs of the late Robert Courtney, and the original part of the building you see has been occupied by the Methodist congregation in Franklin since 1871.

  • The present Historic Sanctuary was completed in 1871 and services soon began.

    The pews are handcrafted by a local carpenter whose shop was located next to the railroad depot. Each pew is its own geometric study with a unique arc, length, and angles. The wood, arriving on wagons and enormous oak logs, was hewn and crafted into the exquisite pews using the most primitive of tools of 150 years ago.

  • The gothic arched windows with the handmade colored glass (a costly item in that day) with its uneven coloring and characteristic waves and imperfections. Notice the circular rosette shape at the top of each window, a design that is repeated in the other places around the building.

    The communion rail and pulpit are original to the building.

    The bricks are painted red and were made down by the Harpeth River out of river mud. The building was originally painted solid white. In the late 1800s, it was painted solid red. The mortar was later repointed and the appearance of the red bricks became noticeable. Notice the steep roof line and the stone caps on the parapet walls, with the arch effects and rosette window about the double door of the Narthex.

  • In 1916 the adjoining annex was added containing 15 Sunday School rooms.

  • In 1949 a basement hall, which seated 200, was constructed under the historic sanctuary.

    • 1958 The chancel was added with a choir loft and space for a future pipe organ.
    • 1963 The first education building across the street from the historic sanctuary was built to provide more classroom space.
    • 1968 The historic Kenneday House (built in 1835) was acquired from church members and was used for church offices.
    • 1975 The fellowship hall, kitchen, and additional classrooms were added in a second education phase across the street.
    • 1995 The historic sanctuary was refurbished, the bell tower was restored, and the steeple, destroyed in the 1920s, was replaced.
    • 1997 On June 29, 1997, the Education-Activities Center was consecrated. This 37,000-square-foot building marked a new era in the ministry of historic Franklin First UMC.


to Present

Mack Hatcher & Franklin Road

Our Fourth Location

On February 9, 2007. 107 acres of land on Mack Hatcher was purchased for the future home of Franklin First UMC. Dr. Bowman had been a member of the church since childhood and the land had been in his family for 80 years.

  • In 2010, The Giving Garden is started and thrives at the then-named “North Campus” well in advance of any physical building being placed on the property. The Giving Garden thrives as all that is grown is given away to various charities.

  • In 2011, architectural plans for the new campus were finalized. Construction at the Main Campus at Mack Hatcher wouldn’t begin until April 0f 2014.

  • On December 5, the Franklin First United Methodist Church moved into the Main Campus at Mack Hatcher. On December 6, the fourth location of the Methodist church in franklin held their first service at this location.

  • The ministry and mission of Franklin First UMC continue in our community. We are one church with two locations with our Main Campus located at Mack Hatcher and Franklin Road. The Historic Sanctuary at Fifth Avenue remains a center for ministry in the heart of Franklin with services each week.

    The body of the United Methodist Church in Franklin continues with added groups, community outreach, and stories of changed lives. In addition to our Main Campus at Mack Hatcher, our Historic Sanctuary at Fifth Avenue remains a center of ministry in the heart of Franklin.