Above, an aerial photo of Fort Negley taken in 1937 following its restoration by the Works Progress Administration (WPA). The proposed redevelopment area is to the right in the photo. METRO NASHVILLE ARCHIVES
A mixed-use redevelopment project that would have added active park space, affordable housing, and creative “maker space” replacing Greer Stadium adjacent to the site of a Civil War fort has been withdrawn.
Tennessee Valley Archaeological Research this past week released a final report on their survey of the site suggesting that the remains of slaves who labored on the construction of the fort may be on the site.
Consequently, the Cloud Hill Partnership announced their intention to withdraw their proposal for a private-public development at Greer Stadium due to several issues with the location, including the uncertainty based on the archaeology, according to a statement from the office of Nashville Mayor Megan Barry.
The survey shows that there are areas along the periphery of the property that have undisturbed soils. Combined with the historical record indicating that impressed slaves were likely buried in these areas during the construction of Fort Negley, it is highly likely that human remains are still present in these areas.
Preservationists, including many involved with Civil War site preservation in Williamson County, were opposed to the redevelopment project, instead wanting to create park space around the fort on land that now is parking lots and the derelict Greer Stadium.
Mayor Barry lauded the Cloud Hill Partnership for their willingness and desire to answer the city’s call for proposals to reimagine this underutilized property, using private dollars to meet the community’s needs.
“Nearly a year ago, the city of Nashville asked the community to present their best ideas and vision for how to use the Greer Stadium site in a way that would address many of the needs of our community, such as active park space, greenways, affordable housing, artist and creative maker space, and more,” said Mayor Barry. “The Cloud Hill Partnership put forward a wonderful proposal that even critics thought would be a welcome addition to the community, if perhaps at another site. I regret that we will not be able to move forward with this project, but I want to thank them for stepping up and helping us see what a sustainable, responsible, and equitable development could look like on this land.”
In their report, TVAR recommends “that a portion of the project area be protected, with no land alterations taking place. It is suggested that this portion be reintegrated into Fort Negley Park.”
“The likelihood of graves means that we should reassess plans for this site so as to better honor and preserve the history of the men and women who died in the construction of a fort that helped save the Union,” Barry said. “As we move forward, I want to see that whatever happens with the Greer Stadium site will honor that history, while bringing the community together around a shared vision. I have faith in the ability of all stakeholders to work together to identify and coalesce around this vision.”
Construction of Fort Negley began in 1862 after U.S. Army troops occupied Nashville. It’s size and prominence on St. Cloud Hill is said to have discouraged attacks by Confederates during the war. Artillery pieces at the fort were used during the December, 1864 Battle of Nashville, in which Gen. John B. Hood, following a devastating battle in Franklin, deployed troops along a wide front south of the fort. The fort played only a minor role in the battle, during which Union soldiers were able to flank the thinned lines of Confederate troops and drive them back toward Franklin.
According to Barry’s announcement, “Unless or until proper plans and approvals are made for alternative visions for this site, no park construction or demolition will take place on the Greer Stadium parcel – which is a Metro Parks property – adjacent to Fort Negley.”