Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Who Owns the Square?

Friday, May 2, 1856

Mr. Editor:  Believing there is a general want of accurate information in regard to the Public Square, I ask a few lines in your paper, to state the facts relating to it.

Now, that another Court House is soon to be erected, and probably on the spot the old one occupied, I think it behooves the citizens of this Corporation,--all, to examine this mooted question, of title, and see where it lies.  In the private acts of North Carolina, compiled by Francis Xavier Martin, Chap. 47, p. 130, we find the original "Act establishing a town on the Cumberland River at a place called the "Bluff,"  near "French Lick.'  By this act, there was appointed five '"directors or trustees," whose duty it was , to have two hundred acres of land, on the South side of the river, at a place called the "Bluff" adjacent to the French Lick, " laid off in lots of one acre each," with streets, etc., reserving four acres for the purpose of erecting public buildings thereon.  The land so laid off was called, "Nashville," in honor of General Nash.  These trustees were seized of an indefeasible estate in fee, of the said two hundred acres of land, to and for the uses mentioned.  "Ephraim McLean, Andrew Ewen and Jonathan Drake," were appointed, to apply the proceeds of the sale of the town lots to the "purpose of building, upon the reserved four acres, a Court House, Prison and Stocks, for the use and benefit of Davidson County."

Now, I could ask, does this give the title in said grounds, to the County, or to the Corporation?

If we will now turn to Scotts Revisal of the Laws of Tennessee, We shall find in Vol. 1, Chap. 33, p. 960, the act, passed Sept. 11, 1806, incorporating "the inhabitants of the town of Nashville,"-and in Vol. 2, of the same book, Chap. 84, p. 218, we find an act passed Oct. 27, 1815, amendatory of the above act of incorporation, divesting the title in the said land and lots out of the Commissioners of said town, and vesting it in the Mayor and Aldermen, "for the use of said Corporation."

Since the title is thus vested, ought not the town to have a voice and hand in the new Court House building?  If they wish it removed, from its present location, why don't they speak?  If the Corporate Authorities are without money and courage to build on their own account, a new Market and a City Hall, why in the name of conscience don't they combine with the County, and build an edifice, which shall include besides apartments for the County Courts, rooms of the Recorders Court and other city offices that are needed;-also a grand Assembly Room, where all Agriculture, Mechanical, Political, Medical and Scientific Meetings could assemble.-This Assembly Room should be constructed on the ground floor, with capacity to hold three, or five thousand persons, and should be convenient of speedy ingress and egress.  We need such a room very much!  Where will our Mechanical fairs be held?  At present there is no room or rooms capacious enough!  And our political assemblies, where can they meet/  Suppose the "Printers Union" should wish to meet in Nashville, where is there the room for them?  The answer is plain.  Could not the County and City combined, build a Court House and City Hall, that would fill the wants of the City and County?  If so,  and it should be built on the Square, then it ought to be placed in the center of the grounds, and surrounded by a substantial and ornamental iron fence, with a broad street around it.

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