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Metro Parks, Historic Commission needs community's help in preserving Fort Negley

fort negley
Posted at 9:16 PM, Nov 09, 2021

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — A historic Nashville site could be in danger of becoming extinct, some say, if the city doesn't act soon. Fort Negley marks Nashville's Civil War history and there are efforts to save the landmark site.

Metro Parks and Metro Historical Commission hosted “A Night for Fort Negley” on Tuesday, November 9 at Rose Park Middle School to kick off the first community meeting for the Fort Negley Master Plan.

Fort Negley Park is a 64-acre park in Nashville and is recognized as one of the nation’s most important historical sites. It's home to distinct natural and cultural assets and was designated a "Site of Memory" by the UNESCO Slave Route Project in 2019.

From the Civil War to the civil rights era — Fort Negley was built by free and enslaved African Americans in 1862.

Even though the war is over there's a battle to save this site.

"It's a great opportunity for people to know, kind of where we've come from, and then talks about where we're headed," said Metro Councilmember Colby Sledge.

It was during the Depression when the fort fell into disrepair, and some say it's happening again.

"It’s breaking my heart that is such a significant part of Nashville's history. And it's just falling into ruins," said Dennis Boggs, a Civil War reenactor who portrays Abraham Lincoln.

Boggs says Fort Negley was such a beautiful site, full of life but it's since been neglected.

"I went up on that hill Friday and I wept, it is a disaster. It is an embarrassment," Boggs said.

Metro Parks and Metro Historical Commission is tasked with the master planning process and development on the landmark.

Boggs wants to see Fort Negley become a tourist site worth visiting.

"What we want to see where the old ball field was, is a contraband camp with living historians there to show people what it was like to be and it's a free person and yet to be enslaved, to have to work on that fort," said Boggs. "So, that will not repeat that kind of history again."

The community was encouraged to attend the event to share their thoughts on how best to preserve, maintain, honor and enhance this sacred space.

Mayor John Cooper is allocating $1 million for repairs to Fort Negley in his Capital Spending Plan.