I recently interviewed some of the key leaders with Franklin’s Charge about their battlefield preservation efforts in Franklin, Tennessee, since 2005.To learn more about Franklin’s Charge or to donate check out their web site.

http://farm3.static.flickr.com/2656/3944860477_ef27cccea5.jpgNationally recognized as a model for successful public/private partnership, Franklin’s Charge is dedicated to the preservation of “America’s Civil War Battlefield” in Franklin, Tennessee. Organized as a 501(c)(3) in 2005, members of Franklin’s Charge include individuals as well as local, state and national preservation groups such as the Civil War Preservation Trust and the National Park Service’s American Battlefield Protection Program.

The group’s inaugural project saved 112 acres of the eastern flank of the Battle of Franklin, the nation’s largest reclamation of a Civil War battlefield. In addition, Franklin’s Charge has collaborated with the Tennessee Civil War National Heritage Area to present annual symposiums that educate the public about the Civil War in Middle Tennessee. Franklin’s Charge advocates heritage tourism, including support of the Tennessee Civil War Trails program. [From their web site]

What properties is FC currently looking at for potential Franklin battlefield reclamation?

FC: Franklin’s Charge is in the process of acquiring a number of contiguous properties east of Columbia Avenue that would reclaim a significant portion of the Cotton Gin site that is so important to the interpretation of the Battle of Franklin. When completed, the Cotton Gin park should comprise approximately five acres.

How much land has FC helped to preserve since 2005?

FC: Including the Cotton Gin park site, Franklin’s Charge has led the reclamation of approximately 120 acres of Civil War battlefield in Franklin.

What does a typical donation to FC look like?

FC: Gifts have been as small as a handful of change tossed in a jar to major donations of $100,000 over time. This does not include grants or pledges that have not yet been paid. Over the years, we have received hundreds of individual donations, large and small. Regardless of the amount, every gift counts and each donation allows us to get closer to our goal of battlefield reclamation.

What is the status of the negotiation with the Domino’s strip mall?

Active discussions are underway regarding the Domino’s strip mall, and contiguous properties have been purchased or pledged. The Cotton Gin park will comprise approximately five acres.

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What is the time-frame goal for acquiring the Domino’s strip mall land and its related projected cost?

FC: Our goal is to have the Cotton Gin park completed no later than the sesquicentennial of the Battle of Franklin on November 30, 2014. The total cost of the project, including land acquisition, rebuilding the structures and installing the interpretive earthworks, is projected to be approximately $3.2 million.

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What is the value of even ‘small’ donations to FC?

FC: Small donations add up, but just as importantly, they represent grassroots support for our efforts. Folks from all over the nation have supported Franklin’s Charge, and they provide a means by which to attract national attention to the reclamation effort that’s happening in Franklin.

Why is historic land preservation important to FC and the Franklin community?

FC: Every property that Franklin’s Charge has acquired was thought to be forever lost to development, and that’s why what is taking place in Franklin is so important. People in Franklin have embraced heritage tourism as an economic engine, but we also have recognized the value of a better understanding of our history.

What is the importance of communities working together in alliance with other preservation groups and causes to reclaim lost land?

FC: Franklin’s Charge is a partnership of representatives from various preservation organizations, by design. Grassroots support is critical to any fund-raising effort, and all of the organizations involved help us broaden our reach.

Our member organizations include:

African-American Heritage Society

The Battle of Frankin Trust (Carnton and The Carter House)

Civil War Preservation Trust

Franklin Civil War Roundtable

The Heritage Foundation of Franklin and Williamson County

Land Trust for Tennessee

Save the Franklin Battlefield

Tennessee Civil War Heritage Area

Tennesee Civil War Preservation Association

Tennessee Department of Tourism

Tennessee Historical Commission

Tennessee Wars Commission

Williamson County-Franklin Chamber of Commerce

How has FC experienced success in reclamation efforts by thinking strategically, being focused, and finding one small win at a time?

FC: Franklin’s Charge started with an opportunity to reclaim the Eastern Flank – the Cotton Gin project is another opportunity to reclaim America’s Civil War battlefield in Franklin. We have been very fortunate to attract national attention and the support of national organizations, which has allowed us to continue to progress.

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