Foundation Buys Tenn. Civil War Fort
By Margaret Foster | Online Only | Sept. 3, 2008
Earlier this summer a private foundation surprised Knoxville residents when it purchased about 100 acres near a Civil War battlefield, saving it from development—for now.
"A lot of people are very happy," says Joe Hultquist, city councilman. "It preserves the ridge, part of a green ridgeline backdrop to city's downtown, so it's a very important aesthetic victory as well."
In July Knoxville-based Aslan Foundation paid $2.3 million for the land, which includes Fort Higley, built in 1863, and a handful of log houses.
"What people want to say is that Fort Higley has been saved, and we feel that's premature at this point," says Lindsay McDonough, foundation board member. "We're not going to hold it permanently. We're working just as hard as we can to find a solution."
Less than a mile away, condos and townhouses already cover the site of the Battle of Armstrong's Hill, where Confederate soldiers lost to Union troops in 1863. Developer Dovetail Companies purchased the property in 2006, cleared the land of 40 acres of trees, and built "the Woodlands of Knoxville," which opened last year.
Today only two of Knoxville's 16 Civil War forts remain: Fort Higley and nearby Fort Dickerson, now a city park. What's next for Fort Higley? "One possibility is that the city will own it," Hultquist says. "One great advantage is that it's contiguous with the city park [that contains Fort Dickerson]. "It has potential for educational purposes and tourism."
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