In four months, Heritage Foundation gets commitments for $5 million to buy O’More campus


In four months, Heritage Foundation gets commitments for $5 million to buy O’More campus

The Heritage Foundation of Williamson County, TN has officially exercised its option to purchase the former campus of O’More College of Design in Franklin, TN from Belmont University, raising $5 million to purchase the Abbey Leix Mansion and other buildings on seven acres at 423 S. Margin Street.

Belmont acquired the college and the property in a merger this past spring. The school’s operations were absorbed into the Belmont campus in Nashville.

In August 2018, the Heritage Foundation announced its intent to purchase the property.

On Monday, in a letter to Belmont President Dr. Bob Fisher, Heritage Foundation CEO Bari Beasley expressed gratitude and spoke of a target closing date on the property during first quarter of 2019.

“In less than four months, we have been able to secure over $5 million dollars in gifts and pledges which puts us in a position to purchase the property from Belmont University,” Beasley said. “This accomplishment is a testament to our generous donors who love Franklin and want to see it continue to flourish. Looking ahead to 2019, I will be completely focused on securing additional lead gifts so the entire vision for this project can be implemented in a timely manner.”

In addition to exercising the option to purchase, the Heritage Foundation also announced FirstBank as the key lending partner on the project.

Chairman of Middle Tennessee for FirstBank Gordon Inman said the bank is committed to the local community and excited to partner with the Heritage Foundation on the project.

“The beautiful event center, gardens and educational components will add tremendous value to the Franklin community,” Inman said in a Heritage Foundation press release.

The College, originally O’More School of Design, was registered with the State of Tennessee as a nonprofit organization in February 1970, according to state records online. That’s when founder Eloise Pitts O’More first started the school in her home on Main Street in Franklin. The school moved to the Abbey Leix Mansion 10 years later.

The nonprofit Heritage Foundation plans to restore and rehabilitate the property into a multi-use campus with new educational offerings, publicly displayed collections and other components, to be announced, that will add to the economic vitality of the area.

“The Heritage Foundation is a beloved organization in this community. Because of that, the response to our lending need was remarkable,” Heritage Foundation Board President David Garrett said. “We are so grateful for all our financial partners and look forward to continuing to work with them in various capacities. We are especially
appreciative of FirstBank’s competitive offering which is a sound financial decision for the future of this organization.”

To participate in the capital campaign, contact Heritage Foundation CEO Bari Beasley at bbeasley@williamsonheritage.org.

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