The I. H. Goodnight Memorial Library and Auditorium was built in 1936 and 1937 through a bequest by Mrs. Goodnight in honor of her husband, and through funds and labor provided by the Works Project Administration. Isaac Herschel Goodnight (1849-1901) was a lawyer who distinguished himself as a Congressman and Judge. He was reared in Allen County and moved to Franklin in 1870. Young Ella Hoy was reared at the corner of South Main Street and Madison Street in a more modest home than the Goodnight House that sits there now.
Miss Hoy graduated Valedictorian of the Franklin Female College Class of 1874, and married Mr. Goodnight the same year. She went to Washington with her husband during the time he served in the U.S. House of Representatives, and while there continued her study of music and art. Mr. Goodnight died in 1901 at the age of 52.
Mrs. Goodnight and her husband had one child, Isaac Hoy Goodnight, in 1880. Hoy attended law school at Cumberland University and practiced law in Franklin. He never married, and in 1913 while serving as the City Judge, was killed by a stray bullet while attending a local carnival.
Mrs. Goodnight sought to overcome her grief by filling her life with world travel, church work (she was a member of the Presbyterian Church) and community service. She founded the Music Club, which today bears her name. Mrs. Goodnight traveled abroad several times, visiting many countries and collecting many items from each country. Some of those items are on display here at the library, but most are at the Hoy Goodnight Museum at Cumberland University in Lebanon, Tennessee.
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