Opinions differ on proposed renaming of Fackler Street

Published 8:49 am Friday, October 27, 2017

Danville is receiving “some positive and some negative” feedback on the idea of renaming a city street in memory of long-time African-American funeral home director, City Clerk Donna Peek said this week.

The city is currently in the middle of a 30-day public-input period concerning the possible renaming of Fackler Street to Michael M. Smith Way. The name change was first proposed by Danville resident Margaret Calhoun, following the passing of Smith in September.

Ben Kleppinger/ben.kleppinger@amnews.com
Fackler Street currently runs from South Fourth Street to South Second Street, just north of where of Hustonville Road splits into Third and Fourth streets.

Fackler Street currently runs between South Fourth and South Second streets. City Commissioner J.H. Atkins said it used to continue west of Fourth Street, but that section of the street was renamed Roy Arnold Boulevard years ago.

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“We have had some Fackler family members ask that we not rename it,” Peek said of the remaining two-block stretch.

According to those who discussed the issue at Monday’s city commission meeting, Fackler Street is named for notable Danville historian Calvin Fackler.

According to a history of the Danville man printed in The Advocate-Messenger’s 1984 bicentennial edition, “Calvin Morgan Fackler was born April 19, 1872, on the family farm located west of Fourth Street in Danville, a location still marked by the presence of Fackler Street.”

Fackler worked on abstracting land titles for Kentucky Utilities, which got him hooked on researching history, according to the 1984 publication. He went on to write several history books, the most famous of which is “Early Days in Danville.”

“Fackler’s books represent starting points for anyone interested in Danville’s earliest years,” the 1984 publication reads. “He wrote down most of what Danvillians know or think they know about the town’s history.”

Atkins said Monday anyone interested in saying something about the proposed name change needs to do so using information from the city’s website, danvilleky.org.

“Mr. Fackler’s family members are still in the community and have voiced some opposition,” Atkins said.

A story on the city’s website currently provides a link to the resolution that dictates how streets can be renamed and lays out how people may participate.

“All suggestions, whether solicited or independently offered, shall be submitted in writing to the city clerk,” according to the story. “The person(s) submitting the suggestion should provide information regarding the basis for the suggestion. Biographical information should be included if the suggestion is to name the property after an individual. Historical or other information should be included if it is to be named after an organization. Any letters from appropriate organizations or individuals which provide evidence of substantial local support for the proposal should be submitted with the suggestion.”

Atkins said when the western portion of Fackler Street was renamed years ago, the process was likely “easier” but also “more arbitrary.” The city put in place a formal renaming process to ensure fewer arbitrary decisions in the future, he said.

Bob Trumbo, a retired educator and lifelong Danville resident, spoke at Monday’s commission meeting in favor of the name change.

“Michael Smith buried both black and white people. I mean he buried them. There’s a lot of white people — for some of you that may not know — that are buried in Hilldale Cemetery,” Trumbo said, referencing Danville’s traditionally African-American cemetery. “And he put them there. And a lot of times, he helped the families out financially himself. So I don’t think what we’re asking is asking too much.”

Trumbo said he understands the Fackler family wishing to protect their legacy, just as members of the community are hoping to protect Smith’s legacy.

“I understand the Fackler family maybe disagreeing with it because that’s their legacy,” Trumbo said. “But they should have been fussing with the other part of Fackler Street being changed, too. That little bit of land, maybe it is historical to them because of Calvin Fackler … but couldn’t we put a plaque some place, dealing with Calvin Fackler being such a great person in our community? And he was.

“… He was very important, and I don’t think that we should throw him over the boat or throw him out to the garbage, but I think that we can designate something else in favor of him and honor him, because he does need to be honored.”

Trumbo said the name-change would only affect one address, and the resident of the address is on-board.

“This was one of Danville’s black areas, even though it was considered Fackler Street …” he said. “The part that … we would like named this is the part where most blacks or African-Americans lived in the first place.”

Trumbo said remembering Smith is important, just as remembering Fackler is.

“If it does not pass, we’re not going to have no riot in Danville, Kentucky,” he said. “I’m going to tell you — we’re not going to riot. But we’re going to be awfully upset. And you would be, too.”

The 30-day window for public input on the renaming ends Nov. 10. All submissions will be compiled and submitted to the Danville City Commission at its Nov. 13 meeting so it can consider what action to take, Peek said.