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  Is Preservation Over in Franklin?  
  By STFB Board member Dan Mora

 
 

That question was recently asked by a local reporter of one of the Save the Franklin Battlefield (STFB) board members. His reply, “No way - battlefield preservation is not a destination, it is a journey.”

We at STFB feel that battlefield preservation should never end. As long as there is an opportunity to preserve a piece of land that saw the sacrifice of men from both side of the issue fighting for what they believed, we think that their sacrifice should be memorialized for generations to come. It is never too late to recover a piece of property. Although the property may have been used as something else over the years, if it becomes available and can be added to existing park or private battlefield holdings, the effort should be made to preserve it. Recent acquisitions on behalf of the Gettysburg National Park are an example of land that had another use before being recovered and added to the national park system. Recently, the train station where President Abraham Lincoln arrived to deliver his Gettysburg Address was added to Gettysburg National Park. This was made possible through the involvement of city (borough in the case of Pennsylvania) government who chose to remain involved in preservation rather than detach itself from heritage preservation. The Borough is cognizant of the significant monetary contributions that heritage tourism brings not only to the borough but to the state. The Borough could have sold the property for commercial development, but chose instead to sell it to the National Park Service at a fraction of its commercial value. Though there has been support from the city here in Franklin in the past, that support is still essential.

A property, in private holdings, once lost to incompatible development can destroy park views, undermine a visitor’s experience and often adversely impact the area's environment. There is significant battlefield property in private hands today.

Such property is not considered lost. If it were to become available in the future, it could be added to existing battlefield land that is currently preserved. Land in private hand does not have to be sold or lost by its current owners. That property can be preserved through use of a conversation easement. A conservation easement can protect the parcel of land from future development and will preserve the historical integrity for generations to come. Such actions were recently undertaken by two resident of Thompson’s Station when they placed an easement on approximately 150 acres of land that were ground zero for the Battle of Thompson Station in 1863. They are to be commended for their actions, and hopefully serve as an example to others in the area.

STFB, Franklin's Charge and the Heritage Foundation of Franklin and Williamson County are the preservation organizations in the Franklin and Williamson County area that are actively engaged in preservation, both heritage preservation and historic preservation. There have been successes that could be attributed individually to each organization, however this is not about individual efforts rather it is about joint efforts to preserve our history and heritage in Franklin and Williamson County. Looking specifically at battlefield preservation the following was recently authored by David Fraley, a local historian and preservationist:
 

 
 

“Our battlefields are disappearing quickly, and with them go our history. This does not have to happen! Planned development and historic preservation can co-exist, but only when civic duty and patriotism become more compelling than greed and personal gain.”

 
 

 

Preservation is not over in Franklin and Williamson County. As long as there is an opportunity to preserve battlefield land, those of us in the pursuit of preserving our heritage will continue to do so. In order to be successful in this endeavor, we will need the continued support of like minded individuals throughout the city, county, state and these glorious United States who like us believe the paraphrased words of the immortal Yogi Berra: “It ain’t over ‘til its over.”

 
 

 

 
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