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Save history's 'holy places' page 3
In Spotsylvania visit, best-selling author will describe how Tennessee town is restoring Civil War battlefield, healing community

 Carrie McGovack's engagement portrait at Carnton House.
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Date published: 9/6/2011


When Williamson County opted to build a library on another piece of the battlefield, rather than preserve it, the Civil War Trust moved Franklin from its "10 Most Endangered" list to the "lost" column.

That kicked Hicks into high gear, inviting a half-dozen civic leaders to meet on the back porch of Carnton. With that as its start, the nonprofit Franklin's Charge--a coalition of local and state groups--was born to reclaim the battlefield.

First, a Washington-area couple bought the country club's 112 acres, and held it for a year while Franklin's Charge raised $2.5 million, matched dollar for dollar by the city of Franklin, to acquire the tract.

The biggest public-private reclamation effort in Civil War preservation, their teamwork saved the eastern flank of the battlefield--its largest remaining open space.

Then, in 2005, the city of Franklin spent $300,000 to buy the Pizza Hut on whose land Gen. Cleburne fell, bulldozed it and transformed the site into a park. The event drew nationwide attention.

More recently, Franklin's Charge purchased the site of a condominium development on Franklin's main highway.

This July, Tennessee awarded a $500,000 grant to help finish a loop road in what's now called the Eastern Flank Battlefield Park.

Each success has generated additional support and converted one-time critics, Hicks said.

"We keep moving the finish line," he said. "Now, we're trying to buy the Domino's next door."

Other disparate pieces are fitting together: two house lots and a retail property near the Carter House, another historic dwelling that figured prominently in the battle.

By the battle's 150th anniversary in 2014, Franklin's Charge hopes to restore land that saw the fiercest close-quarters combat and build a replica of the Carter cotton gin that stood nearby.

Williamson County now trumpets the economic benefits of heritage tourism, noting that such travelers stay longer and spend more money in the community than average visitors.

Meanwhile, Nissan chose to move its North American headquarters from Los Angeles to Franklin. Among the reasons it cited were its history, parks and quality of life, Hicks said.


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