Franklin, Tn - Pizza Hut destruction set for Nov 30 Anv of The Battle of Frankli
- Pizza Hut destruction will commemorate battle
City also plans to sign paperwork Nov. 30 on Country Club purchase
By KEVIN WALTERS Staff Writer - Tennessean
FRANKLIN—Mayor Tom Miller wants a spectacle Nov. 30 to mark the anniversary of the Battle of Franklin.
But not just any spectacle. Instead Miller wants one involving a bulldozer, a restaurant and a battlefield.
"I want it dramatic," Miller said. "I want a bulldozer up there and run it into the building. That is also the easiest way to do it. "
Doing that culminates months of work and money, namely the $300,000 the city spent to buy the property earlier this year and would effectively rid the city of a symbol that local and national preservationists viewed as a disgrace.
It's on that location 141 years ago Nov. 30 that some of the heaviest and bloodiest fighting took place. And it's been the site of a restaurant since the 1970s, a restaurant that was mentioned as part of a National Geographic magazine pictorial about the increase of Civil War battlefields being redeveloped as part of residential and commercial projects.
If the destruction of the Pizza Hut happens in the morning, the afternoon will likely be taken up with a ceremony to mark the city's other reclamation project — and another spectacle.
This one likely involves a golf course, a nonprofit group and a battlefield.
Specifically, city officials would be signing the papers for purchasing the 110-acre Country Club of Franklin which they have bought for $5 million from businessman Rod Heller with public funds and money raised by the nonprofit group, Franklin's Charge. That land is considered part of the Eastern Flank of the battle and is near Historic Carnton Plantation which was used as a field hospital.
The ceremony may take place at the country club's clubhouse, weather permitting.
The city staff is still working out details on all these plans, Miller said.
"I would like that as a day that the people would remember," Miller said. "We would demolish the Pizza Hut in the morning, for example and in the afternoon sign the papers purchasing the country club."
The actual closing on that property would take place after some federal funds which have been pledged from the American Battlefield Protection Program are transmitted to the city. Those funds have been approved, Miller said, but they have "just gotten wrapped up in bureaucracy."
Joe Smyth, president of the group Save the Franklin Battlefield, has heard firsthand from fellow battlefield aficionados in locales like San Francisco or Oregon about their contempt for the Pizza Hut.
To use their exact words, Smyth said: "'That **** Pizza Hut.'"
That restaurant has been a "lightning rod" for preservationists through the years, he said, though seeing it torn down would also mean a loss for them, too.
"In one respect it's good (to have it torn down) but in others sad because you lose your lightning rod," Smyth said. "I only wish the county could get on board with those successes."
As part of the celebration, flags denoting Civil War-era field hospitals will be flown around Franklin at the 44 sites that were used as field hospitals during the aftermath of the battle.
All of it, Miller said, demonstrates the dramatic changes that have taken place over time.
"The way we celebrate (the Battle of Franklin) in 2005 is reclaim a very small portion of the core battlefield and reclaim a portion of the Eastern Flank," Miller said.