It looks like the city of Richmond is in a sticky situation, and Mayor Stoney’s plans have been foiled…at least for the time being. I guess Stoney never got the memo stating that if you take down your monuments, you erase your history, and then history is bound to repeat itself.
JUST TWO LITTLE THINGS
The City of Richmond apparently never has owned one of the Confederate monuments it is trying to get rid of. That’s the statue of Gen. A.P. Hill that has stood since 1892 at what is now the intersection of Laburnum Avenue and Hermitage Road.
Seeking to match Monument Avenue with its statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee, cigarette magnate Lewis Ginter arranged with the Hill family for Gen. Hill’s body to be moved from Hollywood Cemetery and reinterred at the current site, and then commissioned the statue as an oversized grave marker.
Apparently, the City never required Mr. Ginter to give the property or the statue to the city. The City Attorney’s Office conducted an extensive search of property records after receiving a query from city resident Michael Sarahan and, according to Mr. Sarahan, “found no record of a deed or other document conveying property rights to the City.” Mr. Sarahan said that James Nolan, press secretary to Mayor Levar M. Stoney, confirmed that the city has found nothing in the way of a record of a legal transfer.
Mr. Sarahan, a former assistant city attorney, said that finding indicates the statue is not an improper encroachment.
For the city, the fact it has no evident ownership means it will need to do one of the following: undertake condemnation proceedings to acquire the property, force the sale for delinquent property taxes and buy it at auction, or find the heirs of the last known owner and have them agree to relinquish their rights.
The Stoney administration had indicated that there is a deal with the family, which has agreed to relocate the statue, pedestal and grave (issue #2). Whether the family will voluntarily proceed with removal now that the City does not own the property (issue #1) is unknown.
(Article courtesy of the Dixie Heritage Newsletter, July 23, 2021 ed.)