Tuesday, April 25, 2017

[406] MTSU helps bring former slave’s ‘hard bargain’ to light April 19 in Franklin

MURFREESBORO — A rare aspect of American history will go on display soon thanks to the Tennessee Civil War National Heritage Area.

“Building a Future—The Journey from Slavery to Freedom” will be unveiled at 10 a.m. Wednesday, April 19, at the McLemore House African-American Museum, 446 11th Ave. N. in Franklin, Tennessee. This event is free and open to the public.

Harvey McLemore was a slave owned by former Confederate cavalry officer W.S. McLemore, who also was a lawyer and judge. In 1880, as a freeman, Harvey purchased the land where the museum is now located. The house served as home to Harvey and his descendants for 117 years.

An entire middle-class African-American neighborhood of teachers, carpenters, masons and farmers grew up around the McLemore House. Because Harvey reportedly had driven a “hard bargain” with McLemore, the neighborhood became known as “Hard Bargain.”

“Harvey McLemore’s success anchored the Hard Bargain neighborhood and played a key role in Franklin’s recovery after the Civil War,” said Laura Holder, federal liaison for the Tennessee Civil War National Heritage Area, which is administered by MTSU’s Center for Historic Preservation.

The text for the new display was written by heritage area staff and MTSU students with research assistance from the African-American Heritage Society and was designed by MTSU’s Office of Creative and Visual Services.

“The Harvey McLemore story is a remarkable one and we are grateful to the MTSU team and others for their hard work and for the great job they have done working with us on this project,” said Alma McLemore, president of the African-American Heritage Society, a nonprofit organization that administers the McLemore House museum.

Other partners in creating the exhibit include the Williamson County Convention and Visitors Bureau, the Heritage Foundation of Franklin and Williamson County, the Battle of Franklin Trust and Franklin’s Charge Inc.

For more information about the Tennessee Civil War National Heritage Area, contact Antoinette Van Zelm, assistant director of the Center for Historic Preservation, at 615-898-2947 or antoinette.vanzelm@mtsu.edu.

To learn more about the McLemore House African-American Museum, call 615-305-0904. The museum will open for tours on Fridays and Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. beginning Friday, April 21.

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