Fort Negley

the most
perfect piece of
defensive architecture

A Yankee Fort in Dixie

Old-line residents of Nashville long knew Fort Negley as “The Yankee Fort.” Fort Negley was built by the Union Army in 1862 during the Civil War to protect the city from being recaptured by the Confederacy. 

Many people who worked on the project were African Americans recently freed from enslavement, who settled around the fort for security as some of the earliest residents of the area we now call Wedgewood Houston.

Fort Negley was the largest inland fort built in the United States during the Civil War. The fort’s eight-point star design has been called "the most perfect piece of defensive architecture in the country."

A New Deal for Fort Negley

In the 1930s, Col. Harry S. Berry, a prominent civic leader in Nashville, was given control over substantial WPA funds for work on historic sites in Nashville as part of President Roosevelt's New Deal. He undertook significant building projects in every corner of the city, including a new municipal airport—which now bears his name (BNA stands for Berry Field Nashville). One of the projects Berry undertook, was the restoration of Fort Negley. 

Fort Negley had suffered from neglect, becoming little more than an overgrown hill. In 1936, young people ages 16 to 25 were put to work restoring the fort as part of the WPA’s National Youth Administration Program and reviving the historic Nashville landmark. 

When their work was finished, the Nashville Board of Parks Commissioners surrounded the building with new baseball diamonds on the site of the future Greer Stadium. New roadways and a growing community made the park a popular destination, though, by the mid-1960s, the Fort had once again become neglected.

A Venue Worthy of Its History

In 2004, Nashville spent five million dollars restoring the fort and building a new visitors' center. It was the largest amount a city had ever spent to restore a Civil War site. Today, there is increasing support in the city for additional investments to commemorate the fort, as well as the people formerly enslaved people who worked to construct it in 1862. 

Fort Negley now stands as a staple in the Wedgewood Houston neighborhood, where the visitors’ center hosts regular fossil programs, community lectures, re-enactments, and educational programs, allowing guests to gain a greater understanding of the historical significance of this Nashville site.

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