Officials with nonprofit Franklin’s Charge announced today funds have been raised to purchase a strip center that will be razed to make way for the $3 million Carter Cotton Gin Interpretative Park.
The strip center, anchored by a Domino’s Pizza and facing Columbia Avenue, was “ground zero” for the battle of Franklin, according to Franklin’s Charge. The nonprofit expects to spend $1.85 million for the property.
The Carter Cotton Gin Interpretative Park will comprise four parcels. In addition to the strip center, the Heritage Foundation previously purchased a house (Carter’s original cotton gin) on Cleburne Street in the late 1990s. Also, the Franklin-based Franklin’s Charge in 2008 paid $950,000 for a second parcel, the debt on the note for which has been retired. The Civil War Trust purchased a third parcel for $200,000. That land will be conveyed to Franklin’s Charge.
“We’ve gone from being known as one of America’s most threatened battlefields to a national model for battlefield preservation in less than a decade, thanks to the help of some incredible partners and supporters,” Julian Bibb, a Stites & Harbison attorney and founding board member of Franklin’s Charge, said in a release.
According to Franklin’s Charge, hundreds of people have supported the project since the Civil War Trust announced a $500,000 matching gift to make the strip center purchase doable.
The project will be the centerpiece of an enhanced Civil War offering when Franklin commemorates in 2014 the 150th anniversary of the Battle of Franklin.
The multi-acre site will include a replicated cotton gin and interpretive earthworks that will offer visitors the chance to visualize what happened in Franklin on Nov. 30, 1864.
“We work with organizations from all over the country that are dedicated to the preservation of our Civil War battlefields, but nobody is actually reclaiming them from underneath of commercial development,” said Mike Grainger, a Franklin resident who serves as vice chair of the Civil War Trust.