In April 2016, another school—Kentucky’s University of Louisville—announced its decision to remove a 70-foot-tall concrete pedestal, topped with a statue of a Confederate soldier, from campus. Following a public comment period, Louisville’s Commission for Public Art considered “five or six” historical sites for relocation, Louisville’s public art administrator Sarah Lindgren told Artsy. These included several Kentucky Civil War battlefield sites, a Confederate cemetery, and the state’s Civil War museum.
They were also approached by the Ratcliffe Foundation, a private organization based in Virginia that is “accepting [Confederate monuments] onto their property with the promise to maintain them for historical sake,” according to Lindgren. (The foundation did not respond to a request for comment.)
Ultimately, the commission relocated the monument to a public, rather than private, location. “There was still a lot of support for the monument,” Lindgren said. “One of the considerations was that it should be accessible.” The mayor selected the nearby town of Brandenburg—home to a significant Civil War battlefield—to receive the monument, which was dedicated in May. The whole process took about six months, according to Lindgren.
Confederate monuments have also been relocated to cemeteries. In Gainesville, Florida, the local government was having trouble finding a new spot for its monument to fallen Confederate soldiers that stood in front of a county administration building.
“The solution, which should have been obvious from the beginning, was simply to give it back to who gave it to us,” county commissioner Robert Hutchinson said
The original donors were the United Daughters of the Confederacy, who found a new spot for their 113-year-old statue in a nearby cemetery. County officials had no control where it would ultimately be taken, and Hutchison said they were also unsure as to whether the UDC had plans to add a historical plaque to the statue.
Sometimes the removal of the monument precedes the decision about where it will end up. When New Orleans took down its Confederate monuments, the first of which was removed this April, they were put into storage in an undisclosed location. A plan for their fate is now being determined. (Baltimore, which removed four monuments this week, also has placed them in storage in an unnamed location.)
In May, the New Orleans mayor’s office floated several potential sites: Beauvoir (the home of Jefferson Davis’s Presidential Library), the Smithsonian, and Washington and Lee University. The school immediately announced
that it was not, in fact, interested in the monument to Robert E. Lee because “the statue that exists in New Orleans is about his time as a soldier, and their university focuses on any work he did around education post the war.”
Through this summer, the city was accepting proposals for what to do with the monuments, receiving suggestions from nonprofits and government agencies. It has assembled a committee of city officials to sort through the feedback and make a final recommendation to the New Orleans city council. Proposals must detail how the organization “will place the statues in context, both in terms of why they were first erected and why the City chose to remove them in 2015.” The city has also stipulated that the monuments cannot again be displayed outdoors on public property in Orleans Parish.
A Confederate monument that once stood in St. Louis has also been in storage since its removal in July. Mark Trout, founder and director of the Missouri Civil War Museum, now has custody of the statue following a legal battle with the city that resulted in a settlement. The settlement dictates that the monument cannot be placed within the city of St. Louis or the wider St. Louis County. “We may not have it taken off our hands,” Trout said. “It’s something that the museum may always hang on to.”
The bronze portion, Trout told Artsy, was painted by protestors and the city’s resulting use of paint stripper damaged the work. It will be undergoing restoration for the next six to 12 months. The stone base—all 200,000 pounds of it—is in protective storage. “The longterm goal for it would obviously be to find a suitable place for it at a Civil War battlefield, a Civil War cemetery, or a museum property but we have to see where it all goes.”
He said he’d just gotten off the phone with a museum in Arkansas that was asking for advice in dealing with a similar situation. “I don’t think this is the last Confederate monument that I’m going to be involved in saving,” he said.