Protected Battle of Franklin property grows with Tuesday announcement
In one what official termed an “incredible blessing” in the ongoing campaign to preserve Franklin’s Civil War battlefields, the nonprofit groups Franklin’s Charge and the Battle of Franklin Trust agreed to purchase property adjacent to the Carter House on Columbia Avenue.
Preservationists and city leaders came together on the grounds of the Carter House Tuesday afternoon to sign a $2.8 million contract to buy the property that is currently home to the Franklin Flower & Gift Shop and the nonprofit Williamson County CASA, property that is owned by lifelong Franklin residents Reid and Brenda Lovell. The property is the southward neighbor of the historic Carter House, the epicenter of the Battle of Franklin that was fought on Nov. 30, 1864.
“This is probably one of the most important sections of the (battlefield) yet to be reclaimed,” Eric Jacobson, CEO and historian of the Battle of Franklin Trust, told an audience of 50-60 who had gathered to hear the announcement. “What happened here (during the battle) is almost indescribable.
“This story is finally earning its proper place in history.”
The contract allows Franklin’s Charge and the Battle of Franklin Trust one year to raise the necessary funds to complete the transaction. This acquisition brings a total of 20 acres in downtown Franklin that have been saved as Civil War battlefield sites. They collectively represent one of the largest urban public Civil War attractions in the nation.
Much of the preservation focus of late has been on the opposite side of Columbia Avenue, where two homes on Cleburne Street have already been moved to eventually make room for the seven-acre Carter’s Hill Park. The request for acquisition of a third piece of property known as the Eley tract was going before the Board of Mayor and Alderman Tuesday night. The request had been made in April that the city of Franklin serve as a government pass-through entity for the Eley Tract Land Acquisition Project requested by the Civil War Preservation Trust.
In addition, the two-parcel commercial center with a Domino’s Pizza on the east side of Columbia Avenue will eventually be demolished and the chain eatery will move to Downs Boulevard.
But sights were on the west side of Columbia Avenue Tuesday afternoon, where historian and “Widow of the South” author Robert Hicks hosted the announcement that featured several historians, preservationists and city officials and culminated with the popping of champagne bottles.
“For me, this has been an incredible blessing,” said Julian Bibb III, an attorney and a Franklin’s Charge board member who has been one of those at the forefront of preservation efforts over the last several years. “There have been so many different aspects to this (battlefield preservation), and so many different individuals and groups have worked so hard.”
The Franklin Flower & Gift Shop has been at its location on Columbia Avenue since 1980. Reid Lovell’s father started the business in 1955 near Five Points in downtown Franklin.