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Park Proposal Would Restore Parts of Nashville's Fort Negley

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  • lilsteve68@aol.com
    Park Proposal Would Restore Parts of Nashville s Fort Negley [Unable to display image] Sept. 3, 2002--A proposal by the planning department of the Nashville
    Message 1 of 1 , Sep 3, 2002

      Park Proposal Would Restore Parts of Nashville's Fort Negley

      Sept. 3, 2002--A proposal by the planning department of the Nashville parks department would allocate $2 million for a partial refurbishment of Fort Negley, a vital position for the Union forces during the Civil War years leading up to the momentous Battle of Nashville.

      Parts of the stone fort would be restored, but not all, at least not at first. A visitor center and trail would be built for sightseers to walk for the first time in decades to the hilltop remains of the fort.

      Fort Negley originally occupied some 63 acres very close to what is now downtown Nashville. Two pieces of the site were leased for the Cumberland Science Museum and Greer Stadium.

      The Union fort could open within two years as ''interpretive ruins'' if the plan moves forward and receives the approvals of Mayor Bill Purcell and Metro Council. Signs would show how the fort once looked, its history and the vistas it provided, the Nashville Tennessean reported.

      ''To have to rebuild it totally would take millions of dollars and years, and we really want to get it open to the public before that,'' said Curt Garrigan, Metro Parks planning superintendent.

      ''With interpretation up there, we still think it could be the jewel of a regional Civil War tour,'' he said. ''If there were an admission with revenue, that could be put back in to do ongoing restoration.''

      ''It's an asset for the city that really is just sitting there begging for attention,'' said Bobby Lovett, a history professor at Tennessee State University who has worked for the fort's restoration since 1979.

      ''It would be a great investment because it's the only surviving large Civil War fort west of Washington, D.C., and Tennessee was the second-largest battlefield for the war,'' he said.

      Historians have said for years that the fort's restoration could make it the centerpiece of a Civil War corridor for tourists to travel to battlefields and related sites spanning Tennessee and other states. Even a partial restoration should make this a reality, Garrigan said.

      Over the years attempts were made to make it a national park. The city's parks board bought it in the late 1920s, and the Works Progress Administration rebuilt walls there in the 1930s. During World War II, neglect took over and the site was closed.

      Union engineers built the fort, named for Gen. James S. Negley of Pennsylvania, on St. Cloud Hill in 1862 as the central feature of a ring of fortifications around Nashville. The fort was abandoned a few years after the war.

      Metro Council approved $450,000 to stabilize the fort and complete a master plan in the mid-1990s. But trying to stop the walls from further deterioration proved more difficult than expected, Garrigan said. The Tennessee limestone had disintegrated under the pressure of undrained rainwater, leaving many stones crumbly. Shoring up parts of the wall resulted in ''blowouts'' of weakened stones.

      ''The only way to make it completely stable was to totally rebuild it,'' Garrigan said. When the work was halted about $150,000 of the appropriation still remained unspent.

      Lovett estimates that a full restoration could take $4 million or more, but says the scaled-down $2 million idea is good, too.

      ''If the city puts the money in the project, they will receive a return that will more than pay for itself,'' Lovett said.

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