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Adm. Farragut birthplace poised for development

The birth site of Admiral James David Glasgow Farragut and the site of a Daughters of the American Revolution monument honoring him is set to be developed into a subdivision.

The site, located on a Farragut farm off Northshore Drive, has faced Metropolitan Planning Commission scrutiny as its owner, Lylan Fitzgerald, seeks to develop 4.5 acres of the 20-acre farm into a nine-lot subdivision.

“I think people in Farragut need to know that this is going on; it’s the namesake of the community… and I think he’s a very important figure and national hero that has come out of Knox County,” said Nic Arning, Farragut resident and chair of the Knoxville Historic Zoning Commission.

Fitzgerald currently lives on the property and will continue to live in one of the houses to be constructed on the 4.5 acres. Fitzgerald’s attorney, Arthur Seymour, declined to comment.

“We would prefer that the entire farm be saved as a local or national park, but that’s not really an option with the owner. Therefore, we would like to have the monument (pictured right) preserved where it is … and she has agreed to this,” Arning said.

“[Fitzgerald] has been very cooperative with us … She appreciates the history of the property, so she’s all for it,” Arning added.

Admiral David Farragut was born on the farm, which was later the location of Lowe’s Ferry. When Farragut was 7 years old, his family relocated to New Orleans, where he joined the Navy at age 11.

The Bonny Kate chapter of the DAR erected a marble monument on the site in 1900 and Navy Admiral George Dewey, hero of the Spanish-American war, attended the ceremony.

“[Fitzgerald] is proud of that marker and doesn’t want anything to go wrong with it. [But] I don’t know whether she wants access to it or not,” Arning said.

According to rumor, Fitzgerald and her late husband, John, have not always been amenable to visitors. Arning said that in the past, people visiting the monument, which sits not far from the shoreline, littered and vandalized Fitzgerald’s property.

“But I don’t think she will prohibit anybody who wants to look at it from being there … in the past, nobody went there because no one knew it was there,” he said.

That is what Arning wants to change. He and Fitzgerald may have agreed to preserve the chiseled marble monument, but exactly how to do that, and to what extent property should be saved, is still a matter of debate.

“What we have agreed to is to let The University of Tennessee archaeology department go in there and do a study where they drill sample holes on the property and try to locate the original Farragut cabin,” Arning said.

“The cabin is long since gone … it burned down … but it would be nice to determine exactly where it was. If we can determine the exact site, we will know the parcel of land we would like to preserve from having anything built on it,” he added.

Knoxville MPC voted Thursday, July 10, to allow Fitzgerald to construct an access road for future development, and awarded Arning a 90-day stay for the archaeological dig.

Arning fears that 90 days is not enough time, especially without money to fund the UT dig.

There are four possible sites the Farragut cabin could be located on Fitzgerald’s 20 acres; the archaeological project will be expensive and Arning needs to raise money to fund it.

“Everybody is behind us all the way, but they’re giving moral support and thus far I haven’t had a whole lot of success getting financial,” Arning said.

“[Farragut] was a big national hero. And obviously in Farragut, we love him. But not everybody knows that from such humble beginnings somebody rose to the top.”

For more information, or to help with the project, e-mail Arning at nicholasarning or send contributions to Knox Heritage.


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