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Removal of Albemarle Confederate soldier statue set for Sept. 12
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Removal of Albemarle Confederate soldier statue set for Sept. 12

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Albemarle Confederate statue

ERIN EDGERTON/ THE DAILY PROGRESS

A bronze statue of an unnamed Confederate soldier, titled “At Ready,” stands outside of the Albemarle County Courthouse. The 1909 statue, two cannons and several cannonballs will be removed Sept. 12.

Albemarle County’s Confederate soldier statue in Court Square is slated to be removed Sept. 12.

Around 11:30 p.m. Wednesday, deep into the county Board of Supervisors’ regular meeting, county staff outlined the process by which the statue will be taken down. The board voted in August to remove the life-sized bronze likeness of a Confederate soldier, two cannons and a pile of cannonballs.

As of Wednesday morning, the board had received eight requests for the statue and/or the items surrounding it, and is scheduled to meet virtually next week to review the offers.

Deputy County Executive Doug Walker said there will be road and sidewalk closures to facilitate the removal, and police and fire rescue from both Albemarle and Charlottesville will be present to ensure safety.

“This event is unusual in this location; we have two-thirds of Court Square being within the jurisdiction of Albemarle County, with the roads and the area around it being, of course, in the city of Charlottesville,” Walker said.

The removal work will begin around sunrise Sept. 12 and end either late that night or early Sept. 13.

The county will livestream the event on its Facebook page in lieu of allowing in-person observance because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The county also will be airing “interviews, lectures, conversations about the statue, memory and cultural landscapes, community history and the meaning of this moment from different perspectives,” Walker said.

“We think that the show will be compelling and we know that it will offer the best vantage to watch the removal happen in real time, and we appreciate the community’s support in attending with us together, but from a distance,” he said.

The Board of Supervisors awarded two contracts to T.E.A.L. Construction, an Albemarle-based company, in August for the removal of the statue and armaments. Depending on the entity the board chooses to receive the statue, the removal could cost as much as $81,500, plus $50 per mile to transport it.

The county has declined to comment on where the statue would be stored, but RFP documents show that the items will be taken to a storage facility located approximately five miles from the site.

The Board of Supervisors will hold a special virtual meeting at 5 p.m. Tuesday to review the statements of interest from those who want the statue and/or its accessories.

State law requires that the board offer the statue for placement in a museum, historical society, government or battlefield. The board has “sole authority” to decide where the statue goes.

Walker said county staff will evaluate the offers ahead of time and give the board recommendations on Tuesday. The criteria include what kind of entity is making the offer, its location, whether it has a local connection, which items it wants, visibility of the proposed location, intended audience and the purpose and context of installation.

The Shenandoah Valley Battlefields Foundation, a historic-preservation group, has requested the statue, cannons and cannonballs, and said the items would be relocated to one of its battlefield park sites.

“The SVBF was approached earlier this year about the possibility of transferring the Albemarle County monument and related items to the Shenandoah Valley and having them placed on one of the battlefield sites owned by the foundation,” the foundation said in a submission form. “... This monument, these cannons and related items listed below are of interest to the Shenandoah Valley Battlefields Foundation as historic objects worthy of preservation and stewardship and as fitting additions to a battlefield landscape within the Shenandoah Valley Battlefields National Historic District.”

There is a copper box time capsule inside the base of the statue that holds items from around the time that the statue was erected, and the foundation has asked the county to allow it to hold those items on “permanent loan from Albemarle County and periodically [be] displayed within the museum exhibits of the foundation.”

If selected, SVBF requested that the items be transferred on Sept. 12-13.

The Gordonsville Grays and the Virginia Division of the Sons of Confederate Veterans also have asked to take the statue and other items. The Virginia SCV did not specify where it would put the statue, while the Gordonsville Grays said they would “rededicate the monument [on] private property in Albemarle County at the time a suitable location is found.”

The institutional historian at the Federal Correctional Complex in Petersburg has requested the cannons and cannonballs.

Douglas Spain said in an August email to the Board of Supervisors that he is working on a monument at the prison for Fort Converse, a Union fort, which was located where the prison now sits.

“If you are looking for a new home for the cannons, I would love to repurpose the guns as a marker to the fort where I will have a plaque made explaining the history of the fort, its significance to ending the war, and will add that the guns were donated by Albemarle County,” Spain said.

The Isle of Wight County Historical Society wants the cannonballs.

“Our intent is to display these cannonballs inside of historic Fort Huger to enhance the educational aspect of our historic park,” the society’s vice president said in an August email.

Historic Gordonsville, a nonprofit that works to preserves the Exchange Hotel, has asked for the statue and the cannons, and said its display “would be accessible to those who want to see it and can be avoided by those for whom it is painful or offensive.”

“Sitting a little over a mile from the county line, the Exchange would be an appropriate place for the ‘At Ready’ monument and cannons both because of our Civil War history in general and our connections to Albemarle specifically. In the spring of 1861, several Albemarle men mustered with the Gordonsville Grays (of the 13th VA regiment) across from the Exchange,” the organization’s president said in a letter. “There were also several wounded Albemarle men treated at the Exchange while it was a hospital.”

The Trevilian Station Battlefield Foundation would like the cannons to place them at locations known to be artillery positions at the Battlefield of Trevilian Station in Louisa County, according to a letter.

Rhodesland LLC, owners of the Hampstead dairy farm in Somerset, also have asked for the cannons.

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