Proposed Civil War history center in Fayetteville faces delays, opposition
Posted December 16, 2019 5:23 p.m. EST
Updated December 16, 2019 5:50 p.m. EST
Fayetteville, N.C. — In 1836, Fayetteville became the site of a United States arsenal. Prior to the Civil War, the arsenal expanded into a compound of workshops for manufacturing weapons; however, it was during the Confederacy that it achieved full manufactory capabilities, producing rifles, ammunition, gun carriages, and weapons for the Confederate forces.
Today, on the 89-acre site of the arsenal stands a replica of one of the original four towers. Over the past several years, there has been much debate as to whether the NC Civil War Reconstruction and History Center should be built at this location.
Last year several former North Carolina governors and Fayetteville city leaders broke ground on the proposed project, with the state has budgeting about $46 million towards its construction and Fayetteville and Cumberland County contributing $7.5 million each.
However, the climate surrounding Civil War-era statues and race relations across the country has changed since then. Supporters say the center would be a great educational resource to tell the truth about North Carolina's role in the Civil War, but the opposed don't want it to house Civil War statues, which they believe could become a rallying point for Confederate groups.
State representative Billy Richardson said, "I really believe it's the right thing to do. It's so important that we get this right. And we can't get it right if we don't involve everyone."
Adding to the challenge of moving the project forward is the fact that Fayetteville now has four new City Council members, all of whom are African American. Those who have supported the project for years will now have to convince them to get on board.
According to the mayor, the next step is to stand up an advisory board to have further discussion about the center. The City Council hopes to have that advisory board set up before Christmas.
Knowing that the public will not support the project if they don't trust those who are proposing it, Richardson is backing Fayetteville's mayor in his effort to have more inclusive dialogue about the proposed center.