Wednesday, March 3, 2004

Park for Civil War possible

By Cindy Schroeder
The Cincinnati Enquirer

FORT WRIGHT - One of Northern Kentucky's few remaining Civil War batteries could become the focal point of a signature park here.

Fort Wright City Council, Northern Kentucky University and the Behringer-Crawford Museum are seeking a $45,697 grant to restore, preserve and exhibit Battery Hooper. The 6-foot high earthen wall on a hilltop off Highland Pike was built by Union forces to defend against Confederate attacks during the Civil War.

Last summer, the city of Fort Wright bought the 14.5-acre site from the university's foundation to ensure its preservation.

If approved, the grant from the Scripps Howard Center for Civic Engagement would be matched by $31,000 of labor and other in-kind contributions from the three applicants. Jim Ramage, regents professor of history at NKU, said the applicants should know within a month whether the grant has been approved.

The grant would help supporters verify the edge of the Civil War fortification and the powder magazine, pay for an archaeological dig and an NKU student research project on the battery and Northern Kentucky Civil War defenses, and cover repairs to the late Fern Storer's two-story brick home. The home's first floor would house exhibits on the battery and Northern Kentucky's role in the Civil War.

"Our goal is to inspire and inform Northern Kentuckians about a time in the past when the community came together in a time of crisis for the defense of the region,'' Ramage said.

On Sept. 10, 1862, Confederate Gen. Henry Heth's division of 6,000 veteran infantry appeared south of Fort Mitchell, threatening to attack. When they saw the volunteers standing shoulder-to-shoulder in the 10-mile line of fortifications and rifle pits, they withdrew.

"I think it would be really interesting not only for students but for citizens to know what role Northern Kentucky played in the Civil War,'' said Richard Raabe, a history teacher at Dixie Heights High School. "There were no big battles here, but the Confederates sent a small army up here to capture Cincinnati. When the Confederate forces got up here and saw how strong these fortifications were, they decided not to attack.''

The Cincinnati design firm Human Nature is working with Fort Wright staff on possible uses for the park that would complement and preserve the historic aspects of the site, Fort Wright Mayor Gene Weaver said. Human Nature will discuss the site at the March 10 city council meeting.

Kathy Romero of Fort Wright says she hopes to see the site developed as a signature park or a learning tool.

"It's just a win-win for everybody - the university, the city and the citizens,'' Romero said.


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