With the most recent plans for placing historical markers in the town square area of downtown Franklin, the land where the Confederate statue known as “Chip” stands doesn’t come into play. // Photo by John McBryde
By JOHN McBRYDE
The Franklin Board of Mayor and Aldermen will vote tonight on the most recent plan for placing historical markers on the Franklin town square as part of what is known as the “fuller story.”
At the last BOMA work session, on Feb. 12, three of the four key advocates for the fuller story — Franklin Community Church Pastor Kevin Riggs, Strong Tower Baptist Church Pastor Chris Williamson and Battle of Franklin Trust CEO Eric Jacobson — presented a plan that aldermen seemed to embrace.
Two markers will be placed at the outer circle alongside three steps and a ramp that lead up to the Civil War monument known as “Chip.” One marker will consist of general information about the Battle of Franklin and will face Main Street looking west. The other will tell of the slave market around the town square and will face toward Third Avenue South.
A statue of a United States Colored Troops soldier will be placed near the historic courthouse, in a spot where a Civil War Trails marker currently stands. Alongside the statue will be a marker telling of Reconstruction, while another will be toward Mellow Mushroom and tell of the 1867 riots that occurred in downtown Franklin.
Riggs — who expressed confusion when aldermen seemed to give a cold shoulder to a plan presented at a BOMA work session in January and was encouraged by the more positive reception at the most recent session — said he believes tonight’s vote will provide the veritable green light for the project to move forward. BOMA had approved the fuller story concept back in September, and tonight’s vote is simply regarding the placement of the markers.
“I’m feeling confident,” Riggs said Tuesday morning. “After tonight, we can start the fund-raising process. We still have some work to do and different things with the Art Commission, but those are all details. The big hurdle should be cleared tonight.”
There’s also the matter between the city of Franklin and the United Daughters of the Confederacy over ownership of the land where “Chip” stands. The city has filed a lawsuit claiming it owns the property, but earlier this month the UDC’s attorney, Doug Jones, filed a Motion for Summary Judgment to be heard March 28 in Williamson County Chancery Court.
In the newest plan from the fuller story team, none of the markers would be placed in the specific spot the UDC claims to own. In an email sent by the Franklin Home Page Monday, Jones was asked for his reaction to the latest plan. He responded by saying he “would need to review what they conclude first.”
Riggs, meanwhile, said he doesn’t see why this should remain an issue.
“I would hope they see this as a win-win,” he said, “and everybody would be better served if we could work together.”