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Mayor adds $1M to Fort Negley restoration

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  • lilsteve68@aol.com
    Mayor adds $1M to Fort Negley restoration By BRAD SCHRADE Staff Writer TennesseN Officials plan to make changes that will draw more Civil War buffs Mayor Bill
    Message 1 of 1 , Feb 22, 2003
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      Mayor adds $1M to Fort Negley restoration
      By BRAD SCHRADE Staff Writer TennesseN

      Officials plan to make changes that will draw more Civil War buffs

      Mayor Bill Purcell pledged an additional $1 million yesterday to help restore Fort Negley, the long-closed Civil War era fortification near Greer Stadium that
      local officials hope will become a tourism magnet for history buffs when it opens next year.

      Purcell's announcement came just a week after Fort Negley and other sites in the Battle of Nashville were placed on a list of the 10 most endangered battlefields in the country by the Civil War Preservation Trust.

      The new pledge by Purcell, coupled with $1 million the city pledged last year, will help to restore the star-shaped stone fort, create an interpretive walking
      path and add a visitors' center. Purcell said he hopes and believes the restored site will attract tourists to Nashville.

      ''Today is an important day for Nashville and a recognition of the work we're doing to preserve a part of our city's past,'' Purcell said. ''It's an important start. It should provide funds for an interpretive center. It should provide funds for
      additional stabilization.

      ''There's no question that once we get started, our parks department, as well as our own historical division folks, believe we will have additional investments to make. But the dividends, the returns will be increasingly apparent in years to come.''

      The fort was built by Union troops and was where the first shots were fired in the battle for the city in December 1864. It was one of three forts built to protect the Union-occupied city, Purcell said. Negley has been closed to the public for about six decades, officials said, in part because it wasn't safe.

      Metro's $2 million contribution, plus about $300,000 spent in the mid-1990s to secure the stonework, represents one of the largest local contributions ever made to restore a civil war battle site, said James Lighthizer, president of the preservation trust.

      Lighthizer said 10,000 engagements occurred during the four-year war. Tennessee had 3,800 of those, making it second behind Virginia in the number of battles.

      These battlefields and sites are quickly vanishing, Lighthizer said. However, residents of areas that have preserved them have realized they can be tremendous tourist attractions, he said.

      Gettysburg gets about 1.7 million visitors annually, and about 1 million visitors go to sites in Tennessee annually, Lighthizer said. He said there's opportunity to attract more tourists if proper preservation is done.

      ''If you can preserve a critical mass of a real battlefield and interpret properly and promote it properly, they'll come,'' Lighthizer said. ''The market is out there.''

      Nashville hasn't really had a physical site for visitors interested in learning about the history of the war here, said Ann Roberts, executive director of the Metro Historical Commission. This should provide that site.

      ''We haven't done a very good job in Tennessee of interpreting and preserving our sites,'' said State Rep. Steve McDaniel, R-Jackson, an advocate for Civil

      War preservation who believes a statewide opportunity exists to preserve battlefields and increase tourism.

      ''This is a big boost,'' McDaniel said.
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