PHOTO: Emily Magid at her Williamson County home on Monday, Aug. 6, 2018./ Photo by Brooke Wanser
By BROOKE WANSER
In the 45 years the Heritage Ball has been held in Franklin, there will likely never be such a colorful, eclectic affair as this September’s event.
Held under a big white tent at Carnton Plantation’s Eastern Flank Battlefield Park, this year’s chair and sponsor Emily Magid wants to bring an air of comfort and joy to the traditional black-tie affair, which she refers to as the “prom.”
“It’s going to be color, it’s going to be comfort, it is going to be whalin’ and shoutin’,” she said, noting the rock ‘n roll band. “I wanted to incorporate a lot of what I thought tie-dye should be, but they wanted an elegance.”
Though she’s a longtime patron of the Heritage Foundation, Magid has only attended a handful of balls.
“Probably five times in 20 years,” she chuckled.
Hosting the Heritage Ball
Four years later, her vision is becoming reality.
Heritage Foundation staff requested she host the ball, offering her the option of a colorful theme.
“I went, well, if y’all will work with me!” she said. “I don’t want to see a sea of black. I’m tired of it.”
In addition to picking the theme, Magid attends meetings and is working to finalize lighting, seating, flowers, and other details.
“It is a huge responsibility, and it’s not just me,” she said. “There are people that are way more immersed in it than I am.”
How much time will she have spent planning this year by the time the ball arrives on September 15?
“I couldn’t even fathom that,” she said. “It’s months.”
Life and upbringing
Twenty-one years ago, Magid moved from Brentwood to her current home in Franklin.
She was born and raised in Nashville’s West End, leaving to attend Stephens College in Missouri when she was 17.
Magid then went to Katharine Gibbs Secretarial School in Boston, she said, “just so I would have something to fall back on, to be able to make a living.”
Though she could have been one herself, Magid began working with the Miss Teenage America Pageant and moved to Dallas for three years.
Anyone who has ever met Magid has surely not forgotten her: her short hair typically sports a favorite color, purple, while she always wears brightly colored shirts and jewelry.
“My mother used to dress me in these monochromatic colors that I hated,” she explained. “She would say, ‘Well, when you have your own money, you can buy what you want!’”
Accepting the challenge, Magid went to work at a clothing store part-time at age 15.
Heritage Foundation and other charitable work
Executive Director Bari Beasley said “history, preservation, community,” the new tagline, “beautifully reflect the mission and vision of the Heritage Foundation.”
“I always loved old places,” Magid said of her interest in the Heritage Foundation. “I loved the Parthenon and going downtown in Nashville.”
Through a conservation effort for what is now Parkway Commons (at the northwest corner of Mack hatcher Parkway and Columbia Avenue) Magid met Mary Pearce, the longtime director of the Heritage Foundation.
“When it was all over, I went back to her and said, thank you so much for being so helpful, what can I do to pay you back for this?”
Pearce said, “You can volunteer.”
Since then, Magid has volunteered with the Foundation every Tuesday for 20 years, doing everything from manning the phones and stuffing envelopes to securing sponsors.
“She has been on such a journey with the Heritage Foundation, and was the fairy godmother of the Franklin Theatre,” Pearce pointed out, noting Magid’s generous donation to save the historic place in 2007.
In addition to her work with the Heritage Foundation, Magid has long been involved with Walden’s Puddle, a wildlife sanctuary, the Franklin Theatre, (which she pitched in a generous donation to help save years ago), the Franklin Housing Authority, Habitat for Humanity, and the Williamson County Animal Center.
An animal and nature lover, Magid cares for the wildlife that teem on her property, laughingly referring to herself as the “possum princess.”
Her land is protected as an easement in the Land Trust for Tennessee; when she dies, her property will remain protected as an animal sanctuary, through Walden’s Puddle.
“Emily is always a delight, and loves to laugh and has a generous heart,” Pearce said. “If you’ve got Emily on your side that’s a good thing.”
Colorful dress code
Truly Alvarenga, the mind behind Nashville’s Pink Elephants Designs, is creating Magid’s ball look, a tiered, tie-dyed silk gown.
Magid advised other women to purchase a white dress and tie-dye it on their own.
“I tell men to get a pair of white jeans or white pants and tie-dye it,” she said. “Tie-dye a shirt, tie-dye suspenders.”
“Color has always appealed to me,” she said. “I’m fascinated by it. It makes me happy, and it makes people happy.”