Franklin, TN Tops Southern Living's 'Best Places' List

Magazine notes Franklin's beauty, historic charm and housing options.

On Tuesday, June 28, 2011 - 19:22

The secret’s out: Williamson County is one of the best places to live in the country.

Franklin is 5th Best Small Town

When Southern Living readers voted Franklin the fifth Best Small Town in America in the magazine’s January 2009 issue, people across the nation learned something Williamson County residents have known all along – this is a place where the good life isn’t just a pipe dream. It’s a reality.

“Franklin and Williamson County have a lot going for them – a great location, beautiful landscapes, outstanding educational opportunities, a vibrant economy and a preservation ethic,” says Julian Bibb, an attorney with Stites & Harbison PLLC and a Williamson County resident since 1974. “But the most important attribute is the people in our community. They’re friendly and they have an entrepreneurial spirit. They have a great work ethic, and many are involved in community building. They’re compassionate and reach out to the underserved. And they care deeply about the well-being of the community at large.”

Franklin Business Gets National Recognition

Southern Living isn’t the only national publication to take notice of Franklin and Williamson County lately. The accolades just keep coming.

In 2008, Money Magazine named Franklin among the top 50 on its annual list of Best Places to Live, while ranked Williamson County No. 10 on its list of the Best Places to Get Ahead. Money Magazine called Franklin “a rare blend of history and progress” and saluted the town’s thriving historic downtown, numerous corporate headquarters, affordable housing and charming history. cited Williamson County’s growing economy, hospitable business environment, and a median income boost of 18 percent since 2000.

“The business climate in Williamson County is strong,” Bibb says. “Our county hasn’t been immune to the national market downturn, but our area isn’t suffering to the same degree as across the nation. We continue to have new businesses move into our area. People support each other’s efforts. There’s a great referral system among businesses in Williamson County.”

That strong business climate is a good indication of why BusinessWeek, in March 2009, named Franklin one of the top 50 U.S. small cities in which to launch a business. The magazine used 11 factors such as affordability, quality of life and available talent pool to examine cities across the nation, and Franklin is the only city in Tennessee that made the cut.

Franklin's Historical Preservation

But there’s more. Franklin was also named to the National Trust for Historic Preservation’s annual Dozen Distinctive Destinations vacation list in 2009. The coveted Distinctive Destination title is presented to cities and towns across the country that combine dynamic downtowns, cultural diversity, attractive architecture, cultural landscapes and a strong commitment to historic preservation and revitalization.

Richard Moe, president of the National Trust for Historic Preservation, said Franklin was chosen for its strong preservation ethic, rural atmosphere and Southern charm, and he called Franklin a “vacation destination not to be missed.”

The honor came as no surprise to Mark Shore, executive director of the Williamson County Convention & Visitors Bureau.

“Franklin is a place that engages the mind and warms the heart,” Shore says. “Our people value our strong sense of place and love to share it. It’s an honor for Franklin to make this distinguished list. Those who have visited will understand why Franklin was chosen. Those who have yet to stop in should consider this their invitation.”

In 2008, Franklin also had the distinction of being the first city in the state to receive a Civil War marker as part of the Civil War Trails program, which lists sites in Virginia, North Carolina, Maryland, West Virginia and Tennessee in driving tours of major campaigns and lesser-known Civil War sites. The marker is located in the center of Franklin’s town square and highlights the 1864 Battle of Franklin. The Williamson County Convention & Visitors Bureau expects it to bring even more visitors to the area.

“This has been a wonderful place for me and [my wife] Jayne,” Bibb says. “We raised four children here, and now we have two grandchildren here. I fell in love with Williamson County from the beginning.”

Learn more about Franklin TN's historic downtown.