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Hot Springs National Park among parties interested in statues removed in Charlottesville

by The Associated Press | July 27, 2021 at 2:00 p.m.
The monument of Stonewall Jackson is hauled away on Saturday, July 10, 2021 in Charlottesville, Va. (AP/John C. Clark)

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. — At least 13 organizations and one municipality have expressed interest in acquiring two statues of Confederate generals removed from downtown Charlottesville parks, including one monument that was the focus of a violent white nationalist rally in 2017, according to city documents.

Museums, battlefields and historical sites in Virginia and beyond expressed interest in the statues of Gen. Robert E. Lee and Gen. Thomas "Stonewall" Jackson that were removed earlier this month, according to the documents acquired by The Daily Progress. The city also received at least 18 expressions of interest from private citizens across the country.

The Jefferson School African American Heritage Center is the only Charlottesville-area entity that expressed interest. LAXART, an art museum in Los Angeles, also expressed interest and submitted a proposal to include the statues as the centerpiece of an upcoming exhibit featuring decommissioned Confederate monuments alongside contemporary art.

The town of Goshen in Rockbridge County asked to acquire the statues for free to place in front of its newly constructed community center to attract tourists.

Others interested include the Jim Crow Museum in Big Rapids, Michigan; the Gettysburg Sculpture Museum in Pennsylvania; the Ogletree Estate in Cornelia, Georgia; Hot Springs National Park in Arkansas; the Confederate Gen. Robert Toombs Camp in Higgston, Georgia; and the Controversial Art Trust in Charlotte, North Carolina.

The Charlottesville City Council still has not decided whether ownership of the statues should be transferred to a museum or other entity or whether the statues should be demolished. The city said July 13 that it would continue to accept statements of interest from entities interested in acquiring them.

In early September, the mayor will conduct outreach with the interested parties to further evaluate their interest and resources.

White supremacist and neo-Nazi organizers of the August 2017 "Unite the Right" rally in Charlottesville said they went to the city to defend the statue of Lee. They clashed with counterprotesters before a white supremacist plowed his car into a crowd of people, killing 32-year-old Heather Heyer.

In 1918, the city accepted a resident's offer to donate land for parks for both statues. The Jackson statue was erected in 1921 and the Lee statue was erected in 1924, during the Jim Crow era when Black Americans' rights were being stripped away.

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