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Carter House In Franklin To Get Museum Building

Gregory L. Wade

- (April 2007) FRANKLIN, Tenn. - Franklin's Carter House, often referred to as ground zero for much of the fighting in the 1864 battle, recently unveiled plans for a new Carter House Interpretive Center and Museum in a nearby building.

The new museum's potential for better display of artifacts, research facilities and enhanced exhibit space is evident. "For example, our current museum has 750 square feet," says Thomas Y. Cartwright, executive director of the Carter House Museum. "We could have more than 5,000 in the new facility just for the museum space."

The building is presently rented from the state by the county as a gymnasium for the Boys and Girls Teen Club. Located just steps away from the Carter House itself, it was part of the old Franklin High School, most of which burned in 1956.

"That is one of the neat things about this project," says Cartwright. "A lot of people are excited we are keeping part of the old high school in the community."

The current museum, about 50 yards west of the Carter House, is too small to display the museum's artifacts and documents.

The state has allocated more than $1.25 million for the new interpretive center and museum. Sources of additional funds, if needed, have not yet been finalized.

The Carter House has been a popular state historic site since the mid-50s. "This will be one of the premier structures of its type anywhere in the country," says Cartwright. "We are very fortunate and appreciative of our good fortune."

The future museum is adjacent to the Carter House property on the north side along Columbia Pike. Its site was the scene of some high drama during the battle. Col. Emerson Opdycke's brigade was behind the main lines on the grounds of the current building when they recognized the breach in the Federal lines and plugged the gap, saving the battle for the Union.

Plans are to configure the grounds around the remodeled facility to a more wartime appearance. No decisions have been made about the present museum building. The project will likely not be completed until late 2008 and will have no effect on current museum and facility operations.

Of some concern is the displacement of the youth activities come August. County Mayor Rogers Anderson indicated an all-out effort would be made to find a suitable replacement.

Announcement of the new museum follows on the heels of an earlier acquisition of a half-acre of core battleground adjacent to the Carter House property. That tract on the property's southern boundary holds a mobile home, which will be moved.

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