Preservation Successes: Progress Report
History Under Siege - 2009 Most Endangered Battlefields
Although this report is meant to highlight the variety of threats facing Civil War battlefields, not all news for America’s historic sites is dire. By working in partnership with other national and local preservation groups, CWPT has tirelessly pursued preservation strategies to save historic properties across the country. Below are a few of the success stories achieved by CWPT and its partners in the last year. Each site had appeared in a previous edition of History Under SiegeTM. These battlefields and others like them are proof that endangered does not mean lost, and that hope remains for all of our endangered Civil War battlefields.
Morris Island, SOUTH CAROLINA
For many years the fate of the battlefield depicted in the Academy Award winning movie Glory hung in a precarious balance. Despite protests from a broad coalition of individuals and organizations — ranging from the Audubon Society and land trusts to history-focused groups and even local surfers — developers were poised to build first luxury homes and then an upscale resort on the island. After much careful negotiation, the land will now be owned by the City of Charleston and available for passive, respectful recreation. In 2008 CWPT completed its financial contribution toward the purchase of the battlefield.
Natural Bridge, FLORIDA
As part of its Florida Forever program, the state of Florida recently purchased the threatened 55-acre parcel that landed Natural Bridge, located near Tallahassee, in History Under SiegeTM 2008. The land will be added to the seven-acre state park already at the site, increasing the size of the battlefield preserve eightfold. The historically and ecologically sensitive land carried a hefty $3.4 million price tag, but this outstanding state grant program has ensured that the land will be protected forever. CWPT is proud to participate financially in this landmark preservation success.
In 2008, Perryville earned a place in this report as local officials contemplated designating the last agriculturally zoned land within city limits for development. Once publicized, the controversial proposal caused a national outcry. Hundreds of history lovers from around the country petitioned for the land to be spared, inundating the Perryville City Council with phone calls and emails. State and local officials responded to the outpouring of support for the battlefield and acted to permanently protect the land. In February 2009, the Commonwealth of Kentucky purchased the 75-acre property and intends to construct a walking and biking trail that will follow the route of a wartime wagon road. The new addition brings the total size of Perryville Battlefield State Historic Site up to 758 acres.
The future is looking bright for this 1862 battlefield southeast of Lexington. Local government officials have greatly increased the site’s profile both locally and around the country. In 2008, Judge Executive Kent Clark won a CWPT leadership award for his work promoting the Richmond Battlefield and leading the charge for additional land preservation. Last September saw the opening of a visitor center at the park featuring exhibits, artifacts and an interpretive film. Yet more improvements are on the horizon. The Texas Historical Commission has picked Richmond as the site of its next monument installation. The trademark red granite obelisk will be funded through private donations and unveiled in May.