Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Loan for Part of Franklin Battlefield Paid-Off

Developer's fund pays for key piece of Franklin battlefield


A Battle of Franklin historic marker stands across the street from Domino's Pizza. Preservationists have now retired the debt on the property, which they hope to have cleared by the 150th anniversary of the 1864 battle.
A Battle of Franklin historic marker stands across the street from Domino's Pizza. Preservationists have now retired the debt on the property, which they hope to have cleared by the 150th anniversary of the 1864 battle. / Shelley Mays / file / The Tennessean
Nov. 30, 2014 will be the 150th anniversary of the Battle of Franklin when thousands Union and Confederate troops met during a brief, bloody firefight that left more than 8,500 casualties. Battlefield advocates have been purchasing land on Columbia Avenue for years to create a battlefield park one day where the heaviest of the day’s fighting occurred.
FRANKLIN - In a twist, it's money from new development that's helped pay off a loan to buy a piece of Franklin's Civil War Battlefield.

 Supporters announced this week that a donation from Boyle Investment Co. will cover the final portion of a $1.85 million loan made last year needed to buy a Columbia Avenue Domino’s Pizza and a small adjacent shopping center that will one day be the centerpiece of a new Franklin Civil War park. The property’s historical name was Carter’s Hill.

The take-out pizza restaurant sits on land where fighting exploded 149 years ago on Nov. 30, 1864, during the Battle of Franklin. That night’s fierce fighting left more than 8,500 casualties and was a decisive victory for the Union. Despite the events of the battle, homes and retail developments cropped up through the years along Columbia Avenue on the property, to the chagrin of some who wanted to see a battlefield park created.

To help advocates complete the purchase of the pizza restaurant, Boyle officials gave money collected in a preservation trust as part of developing its 604-acre Berry Farms project in southern Franklin.Located at the intersection of Lewisburg Pike and the Goose Creek Bypass, the multi-phase Berry Farms development includes construction of 95 new single-family homes as well as         30,000-square-foot retail section. The former farmland was the site of at least three Civil War skirmishes.

“During the inception of Berry Farms, the Berry family and Boyle created a community trust that would allow us to support Franklin’s Charge based on the sale of residential properties, land, and leases signed,” said Shelby Larkin, Boyle spokeswoman in a statement. “This was important to both parties because we firmly believe in supporting the historic attributes of Berry Farms and the city of Franklin.” The company declined to reveal the amount of the donation.

Property will be cleared

The donation means local Franklin’s Charge group and the national Civil War Trust can move forward with plans for a roughly 10-acre park that will coincide with next year’s 150th anniversary of the Battle of Franklin.

Franklin’s Charge and the Civil War Trust used grants, donations and pledges to raise the $1.85 million needed to buy the Domino’s Pizza from its owner Donny Cameron last year.
“Everything is paid off,” said Stacey Watson, secretary for Franklin’s Charge. “There’s no debt on (the property).”

As part of the park planning, the Domino’s restaurant and other shop owners are in discussions about relocating. Meantime, there are plans underway to dissemble and move three houses purchased by preservation advocates that sit on future park property to new locations.

This week, the Heritage Foundation of Franklin and Williamson County announced that the house at 109 Cleburne Ave. which the group has owned since 1996 has been purchased and will be moved by new, private owners to a new locale.The foundation sought $6,500 for the house, provided that its new owners would move and restore the home.

The group said John and Sharon McNeely bought the house and have plans to move the house to property in Giles County. “We are excited to be working with the Heritage Foundation not only on the move but also the restoration as a tribute to life in Williamson County in the 1800s,” said Sharon McNeely in a statement.

While the house’s construction dates back to just after the Civil War, its parcel occupies an historical location, sitting on land where the Carter family’s cotton gin stood during the Battle of Franklin.
It’s the second time the house will be moved. The house was originally built on Columbia Avenue just north of the Carter House and was moved with the construction in 1926 of former Franklin High School site.

Separately, the Domino’s restaurant and retail center will be torn down, which could come during the early part of 2014 though no date has been set. Back in 2005, supporters tore down a Pizza Hut that was next door to the Domino’s restaurant.

“We hope in the first quarter we can get the building down and get that cleared,” Watson said.
Finally, Watson said Franklin’s Charge has secured a $45,000 state grant for a future archaeological dig on the property to recover the historic items and other relics that have been buried in the soil for the past 149 years.

Watson expects more attention for the park to come in 2014. “It’s the biggest reclamation project of Civil War battlefield in America,” Watson said. “It’s important that we all appreciate the impact of the Civil War 150 years ago, and how it’s impacting us today.”