Franklin, Kentucky, (population 8,017) the county seat of Simpson County, was established in 1819 and named for Benjamin Franklin. Just north of Nashville, Tennessee, Franklin has been honored as one of the 50 Best Small Southern Towns. The community is centered around its 1882 Italianate courthouse, recently renovated, and the town square.
Local lore has it that three landowners competed to provide the site for the courthouse, but none had plentiful water. One of the owners dug a well that proved to be dry. The night before the location decision was to be made, he hauled water and filled the well. This primed the well, and it supplied the town with water for many years.
The town has three historic districts listed on the National Register. The Simpson County Archives and Museum is located in the historic Jailer’s Quarters, which was used as a jail from 1830 to 1879, when a new jail was built. That structure, the Stone Jail, has one cell restored to its original condition.
Franklin is also the home of the African American Heritage Museum, which occupies a 1914 National Register-listed house. The museum is the headquarters for academic research on African American achievements, emphasizing those in Simpson County and the region. Visitors can view historical artifacts, memorabilia, and exhibits on the history of African Americans.
Designated a Preserve America Community in June 2007.