over 35,000 new, old, and hard to find rare books
located in an historic antebellum landmark building circa 1808
over 2,000 signed first editions, maps, prints, post cards & ephemera
Historic Downtown Franklin Tennessee Bookstore
“A Booklover’s Paradise”
Located on Main Street in the heart of one of the South’s most celebrated small towns, we offer carefully curated new, old and rare books covering a wide range of subjects and authors.
Our passion is Southern Americana, Tennessee, regional and local history, culture, art and literature. Featuring thousands of collectable signed first editions, hard-to-find editions of classic titles as well as important new releases. Our prices range from $10 to $10,000.
The original inventory that helped open the bookstore — a 35,000-plus collection — was purchased in 2005 from Ed Penny, owner for over 30 years of Dad’s Old Bookstore, which was located in the Green Hills area of Nashville.
Meet the Owners
Joel & Carol Tomlin
Joel & Carol Tomlin, native Tennesseans from both middle and west Tennessee, have roots in Franklin, Williamson County that date back to 1802. With a combined interest in books and reading, Landmark Booksellers became a love story of sorts for Joel and Carol. When they married 25 years ago blending two families of seven children, ages 6 to 16, they promised one another that upon the youngest child’s graduation from school, they would find a vocation they could enjoy together. This commitment to each other and their love of books resulted in the opening of Landmark Booksellers in July of 2005. “We are truly blessed to be able to enjoy and share something we both love, not only with one another, but with our customers, on a daily basis, in perhaps the most wonderful place in the world!”
Landmark Booksellers was the Inspiration for Karen Kingsbury’s book The Bridge, which is also a Hallmark Movie.
After visiting Landmark Booksellers, Franklin resident Karen Kingsbury was inspired to write her New York Times bestselling book The Bridge, 2012. A heartwarming inspirational story based on a bookstore in Franklin, the husband and wife who own it, a young couple from Belmont University who discover love, and a flood that brings them all together. An award winning, two part Hallmark Movie was soon to follow staring Ted McGinley and Faith Ford.
Karen Kingsbury on Landmark Booksellers
“It has so much heritage and history, and you can feel it in the floorboards and the atmosphere inside,” Kingsbury said of Landmark Booksellers. “I went in and I just loved the charm, history and smell of all of the old books.”
Our building, circa 1808, was known as The Old Factory Store and has had visitors such as Andrew Jackson, Sam Houston and Davy Crockett.
Upon establishing Franklin in 1799, founder Abram Maury sold 3 lots in the town plan, including Lot 20 where our building is located, to Joseph McBride, of Nashville.
The building itself, now believed to have been built between 1806 and 1808, is the oldest commercial building still standing in Historic Franklin, Williamson County Tennessee. Known as The Old Factory Store it has housed banks, shops, restaurants, juke joints, officers club, as well as many residents on the 2nd floor.
A landmark building, perhaps the earliest Greek Revival style structure in Middle Tennessee, among other important historic buildings, the Masonic Hall, tallest west of the Allegany’s, and St. Pauls Episcopal Church, the first Anglican church in Tennessee, point to the early culture, wealth and importance of Franklin and it’s residents. Early visitors included such noted personalities as Andrew Jackson, Sam Houston and Davy Crockett. It is believed Andrew Jackson’s troops were paid here in this building upon their long journey on the Natchez Trace returning from the Battle of New Orleans in 1816. John Eaton one of Jackson’s closest friends, earliest biographers, and political allies lived directly across Main Street.
In 1825 Dyer Pearl, Thomas Parkes, and Joseph L. Campbell opened and operated a steam-powered cotton and grist mill on East Margin offering their goods from this prominent brick building on East Main. Other antebellum owners included Anderson & Baldwin (1833), Plunkett & Parkes (1843), M.G.L Claiborne (1855), and Spencer & McCoy (1858).
On December 12, 1862 the union army occupied Franklin, and U.S. Brig. Gen. David Stanley ordered the machinery destroyed at the cotton factory and the stones of the grist mill but he spared the factory store after taking five wagon loads of flour and whiskey.
Like other public buildings and homes in Franklin, this local landmark served as a hospital for the wounded after the horrible conflict on November 30, 1864. In 1869 Enoch Brown purchased the building from M.G.L Claiborne for $ 1,300, separating its economic connection with the mill on East Margin. Jeremiah Shea purchased the Factory Store in 1884, which remained in the family until 1940.
During the 20th century, the building housed Shea’s Grocery, A.J. Edwards Antiques & Furniture Repair, Elva Givens Antiques, Dotson’s Restaurant (1954-1978) and First Citizen’s Bank. For many years, in its later life, the building housed Dotson’s Restaurant before falling into severe disrepair. Kline Swinney Associates of Nashville, Tennessee worked closely with the Heritage Foundation of Franklin & Williamson County and the owner to restore the building while converting it for use as the main office for a local bank. Additionally, they assisted the owner in having the structure placed on the National Register of Historic Places. The Factory Store was placed on the National Register of Historic places in 1972.
In early 2005 the Tomlins purchased the building to open Landmark Booksellers.
Before-after photos courtesy of KSA Architects
The cool, dark aisles of Landmark Booksellers were an oasis from the sticky heat outside. Bookshelves stretched along every wall; worn leather couches waited in quiet corners; threadbare rugs covered the floors. Everything seemed to whisper, “Come on in, stay a while, take a load off.”
~ From Finding Franklin: A Novel by Katie Shands