Williams-Merrill House, the Former Home of ANC Williams
264 Natchez Street, Merrill-Williams House The dwelling at 264 Natchez Street is a large white two-story cottage, 1881, with side gable roof and ca. 1900 addition, full shed roof porch and two interior brick chimneys. The porch has two central white wood fluted columns and two corner columns with three white square columns on battered red brick bases. The main entrance is a single front door with transom and sidelights flanked on either side by tripartite double- hung bay windows. Second-story windows are four double-hung windows with black shutters. The dwelling has a concrete front porch with stone base with three steps leading up to house. (C)
Backstory and Context
In 1881, Moses Merrill built a large two-story residence at 264 Natchez Street. It appears that Moses Merrill was a former slave whose owner either gave or sold him the land on Natchez Street.
Upon becoming aged and unable to maintain the residence, he sold it to the A.N.C. Williams family in 1892.
A.N.C. Williams was born into slavery in Williamson County in 1844 and was freed before the end of the Civil War. He was the first free black merchant to conduct business on Franklin's main square, successfully owning and managing stores in Franklin for sixty-three years. He began operating his first store on the public square in 1863, although the original location was destroyed during the battle of Franklin in 1864. His business occupied several locations before he finally purchased a building on upper Main Street on Franklin's downtown square. Both black and white customers openly frequented A.N.C. Williams' store, which was unusual for this time, and signified his elevated standing in the Franklin community as well as the Natchez Street district.6He is listed on the Pioneer Families of Williamson County, and is buried in Toussaint L'Ouverture County Cemetery, Franklin's historic African-American cemetery. A.N.C. Williams is significant for his contribution as a free black entrepreneur and businessman who assisted in the development of Franklin's post-Civil War downtown merchant base, as well as paving the way for additional African-American businesses to participate in Franklin's expanding economy.