Monday, September 22, 2014

Urgent Fundraising Drive to Preserve Historic Civil War Land by Bennett Place

DURHAM, N.C. -- Part of the original Hillsborough Road traveled by Confederate Gen. Joseph Johnston to meet with Union Gen. William Sherman in April 1865 is for sale. Bennett Place State Historic Site, where the Civil War ended, is desperately trying to raise $310,000 to purchase the tract located directly across the street.

"The state's option on a piece of wooded land near Durham's Bennett Place State Historic Site, where sits one of the most significant Civil War monuments in North Carolina, is about to expire," states Deputy Secretary Kevin Cherry, N.C. Department of Cultural Resources. "The site needs $310,000 to purchase the land near "The Unity Monument." This monument, located at the site where the Civil War effectively ended, symbolically marks the reunification of the nation. If the site is not able to purchase the optioned land, it is possible that development will mar the historical context in which the monument currently sits."

On April 26, 1865, Confederate General Joseph E. Johnston surrendered all active Confederate forces in North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, and Florida at a farm house just outside of present-day Durham. This surrender effectively ended the American Civil War. The location of Johnston's historic surrender to Union forces led by William Tecumseh Sherman is currently preserved as Bennett Place State Historic Site. This site is maintained by the North Carolina Department of Cultural Resources.

A number of North Carolina's leading citizens initiated grassroots efforts to preserve Bennett Place before it became a state historic site in 1961. Many gathered at Bennett Place on Oct. 12, 1923 to dedicate two tall white Corinthian columns, one representing the Confederacy and one representing the Union. These two separate columns were joined at the top by a bridge with the text "UNITY" carved into it along with two flanking shields. With this piece of symbolic architecture, descendants of the men who fought this nation's bitterest conflict, fulfilled their desire to build a monument to national unity.

"Donations are needed to purchase the adjoining tract and preserve the sanctity of this place," insists Site Manager John Guss. "The need is urgent and immediate." Donations can be made to the Bennett Place Support Fund at 4409 Bennett Memorial Rd., Durham, NC, 27705.
For additional information, please call (919) 383-4345 or email Bennett Place State Historic Site is part of the Division of State Historic Sites within the N.C. Department of Cultural Resources. 

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