Leslie Crawford has a history of changing addresses, having pulled up stakes a number of times during his lifelong career in education.
Last summer, the retired longtime college professor arranged an extraordinary move: buying and moving into not one but two houses, several hundred miles apart, in a matter of a few months.
“I would never recommend it to anybody,” Leslie said, somewhat jokingly.
Where he is living at the moment, in a comfortable, light-filled house tucked away in the woods about a 10-minute drive east of Franklin, has taken on a sense of permanence. For part of the year, at least.
“I call it my summer haven,” Leslie said. He spends winter months in the other house he bought last summer, a waterfront one in St. Petersburg, Florida.
Containing three bedrooms and three baths, the single-story house has a spacious, light-filled interior with pale green walls and gold and wood accents. Throughout are Asian decorations such as statues of Buddha and Confucius, along with a rug in the master bedroom that depicts Chinese gods.
In the living room is a gas-burning fireplace whose exposed chimney runs to the high, vaulted wood ceiling.
French doors in that room and the adjoining kitchen open onto a covered wooden porch stretching across the rear of the house. Facing west, the porch is adorned with comfortable furniture, including a cushioned swing and a rocking chair.
Built in the early 2000s, the house underwent a couple months of renovations before Leslie arrived. For several years, he was splitting time between two condominiums, one in Franklin and the other in downtown Atlanta.
A built-in closet and a shower were added in the master bedroom, stainless-steel kitchen appliances installed, bathrooms repainted and the spacious porch expanded.
A friendly, soft-spoken man in his early 80s, Leslie spent years working as an educator, moving to different parts of the country as he took new jobs. He eventually became emeritus dean of a liberal arts university in Georgia, where he also worked as an emeritus professor of language and literacy, as well as a Fulbright scholar.
These days, he enjoys decorating and entertaining, regularly hosting dinner parties at his home outside Franklin.
“I like to have company,” Leslie said.
Indeed, he has a room reserved there for overnight guests, a quaint space atop a two-car garage connected to the house by a covered walkway that features a rough-hewn wood interior and a ceiling with skylights, as well as a furnished sun deck.
Upon moving in, he had a housewarming party — a blessing ceremony, actually — inviting a couple dozen friends from town and elsewhere, as well as a local minister. The Christian rite involved a Eucharist service and a blessing of each room, followed by a dinner party.
“It’s a celebration,” Leslie said.