African American Heritage Society closes on Merrill-Williams house

The African American Heritage Society of Williamson County announced in November it has raised funds needed to purchase the Merrill-Williams home in Franklin, according to AAHS President Alma McLemore (right). (Wendy Sturges/Community Impact Newspaper)
The African American Heritage Society of Williamson County announced in November it has raised funds needed to purchase the Merrill-Williams home in Franklin, according to AAHS President Alma McLemore (right). (Wendy Sturges/Community Impact Newspaper)

The African American Heritage Society of Williamson County announced in November it has raised funds needed to purchase the Merrill-Williams home in Franklin, according to AAHS President Alma McLemore (right). (Wendy Sturges/Community Impact Newspaper)

Members of the African American Heritage of Williamson County gathered with community members and local leaders Nov. 12 to celebrate the purchase of the Merrill-Williams House, located at 264 Natchez St., for historical preservation.

The nonprofit announced in April it had launched a fundraising campaign to purchase and save the home, which was built in 1881 by Moses Merrill, an emancipated enslaved person, according to the AAHS. Since then, the organization has raised more than $1.2 million to purchase the home. The home is intended to become the Center for Historic Preservation and Study of African American History, which will be open to the public, according to the AAHS.

"This is the Williamson County community and others who are so supportive of our organization and we cannot say thank you enough," AAHS President Alma McLemore said during the event.

The property was passed from Merrill to Thomas Williams in the 1920s and has remained in the Williams family ever since. The property has also since become a part of the Natchez Historic District as listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Other speakers during the event included Franklin Mayor Ken Moore; Williamson County Mayor Rogers Anderson; Carroll Van West, a historian at Middle Tennessee State University; and Cassandra Taylor, a descendant of the Williams family and former owner of the property.


"The home that [my parents] love will not only remain a part of the Natchez Street community, but will forever be a part of the history of Franklin, Tennessee, for generations to come," Taylor said.

Read more about the project here.
By Wendy Sturges
A Houston native and graduate of St. Edward's University in Austin, Wendy Sturges has worked as a community journalist covering local government, health care, business and development since 2011. She has worked with Community Impact since 2015 as a reporter and editor and moved to Tennessee in 2019.