Sunday, September 26, 2021

Denton County Confederate monument relocation plan approved

Memorial to Confederate soldiers outside the Denton County Courthouse-on-the-Square.

The Texas Historical Commission executive committee Wednesday unanimously approved plans to relocate the Confederate monument to the Denton County Courthouse-on-the-Square Museum, calling the plans a “model” for the state.

“We are very fortunate that we have a professional staff that has an eye for the long-term preservation of our artifacts, this and many others,” said Denton County Judge Andy Eads. “We wanted to do the right thing, the right way.”

The Denton County Commissioners Court approved a resolution on June 9, 2020, to execute a State Antiquities Code Permit Application to remove and relocate the Confederate Monument from its current location for the purpose of interpretation. The monument came down on June 25, 2020 for public safety reasons. The monument of a lone Confederate soldier facing south was erected by the Daughters of the Confederacy in 1918. In Denton, it’s been a point of contention for years. In 2018, the Commissioners Court voted to keep the monument but add historical context around it. But in the summer of 2020, during Black Lives Matter protests around the country, many Confederate monuments were vandalized and/or torn down, prompting the commissioners to vote to remove it and relocate it.

“I do not believe we’d have this artifact today if we did not take the action we did collectively last year,” Judge Eads said. “We are in the business of historic preservation. Part of that is preserving our artifacts. And, I think the appropriate and timely actions taken by the THC in conjunction with the Commissioners Court preserved this artifact for future generations. That is what we are all about. I think this new home and new location just still on the Denton County Square but indoors is a great new location.”

The installation of the permanent exhibit at the Denton County Courthouse-on-the-Square Museum is anticipated within the next six months, according to a county news release. The monument, in its entirety, is more than 18 feet tall, much too high to fit in Courthouse-on-the-Square. As a result, a permanent exhibit inside the Courthouse-on-the-Square Museum will feature the statue of the soldier and two engraved tablets from the original monument.

A digital rendering of how the Denton County Confederate monument will be displayed in the Denton County Courthouse-on-the-Square.

The exhibit will be surrounded on three sides by a 3-D version of the Confederate monument where it used to be located on the Courthouse-on-the-Square lawn, according to the county. In addition, a narrative will explain the history of the monument as well as the history of slavery statewide and locally. A kiosk at the exhibit will also feature videos including narrators from the committee on everything from the removal of the monument to the history of slavery in America to the African American experience during the Jim Crow era to the history of the United Daughters of The Confederacy and Confederate monuments.

“Although the Confederate Statue relocation and contextual additions have taken time, it’s been well worth it,” said John Baines, member of the Denton County Courthouse-on-the-Square Art Committee. “The committee has worked together to come up with what we think is the best thing for Denton County and the memorial.”

On June 17, 2020, Denton County agreed to resubmit the permit application to address Texas Historical Commission members’ specifications regarding reinstallation of the monument. A new application was submitted to the THC on June 18, 2020. The THC specifications included:

  1. Working with the executive committee on the location of the reinstalled memorial
  2. Description of the history of slavery in America and its causal impact on the Civil War
  3. Description of the African American experience as that experience related to the legacy of the Civil War at the time of the memorial’s initial construction in 1918.
  4. Asking the county to consent to the continuing jurisdiction of the THC for the administration of the permit.

On June 25, 2020, Denton County retained the services of a professional fine arts moving company to remove and relocate the monument. It has remained in climate-controlled storage owned by the county since then.

Mark Smith
Mark Smith is the Digital Editor of The Cross Timbers Gazette.

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