Montgomery County is presenting five options for relocation of the Confederate soldier statue in Rockville and is offering the public an opportunity to comment before County Executive Ike Leggett asks for permission to move it next month.
The statue, erected in 1913 by The United Daughters of the Confederacy, is a life-sized bronze of a cavalry private and was created to commemorate the soldiers from Montgomery County who served the Confederacy during the Civil War.
It stands next to Rockville’s Red Brick Courthouse, a short walk from the county’s Circuit Court, District Court, Executive Office Building and Council Office Building.
Shortly after the racially motivated shooting of nine people at a historic black church in Charleston, South Carolina, Leggett said work had begun on moving the statue, even if it meant keeping it in storage before a new location could be found.
A few weeks later, county officials said they had to get permission to move the statue from the City of Rockville’s Historic District Commission. Leggett will personally make the case for removal at the Historic District Commission’s Sept. 17 meeting. After someone spray-painted the base of the statue with the message “Black Lives Matter,” the county moved to install a box around it.
A group of local historians, representatives from the black community, government officials and others met Aug. 11 and reduced a list of potential new locations for the statue to five:
Beall-Dawson Historical Park in Rockville
Darnestown Square Heritage Park in Darnestown
Calithea Farm Special Park in Potomac
Jesup Blair Local Park in Silver Spring
Edgehill Farm in Gaithersburg
All of the locations have some history component, and most are tied to the Civil War in some way.
Three of the sites are owned and operated by the Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission and staff from the agency’s Park Planning and Stewardship Division sat in on the Aug. 11 meeting.
Those staff members will recommend the Montgomery County Planning Board put its support behind putting the statue at Beall-Dawson Historical Park.
Relocation there would put the statue next to an existing museum and the county’s historical society, “providing opportunity for active interpretation and proximity to related primary source materials.”
It’s also the only one of the five options that would keep the statue in Rockville and would require a separate review and approval from the city’s Historic District Commission.
The Edgehill Farm option would essentially return the statue to the United Daughters of the Confederacy, the organization which erected the statue in the first place.
The 220-year-old farm includes historical buildings from the Civil War period and its current owners are descendants of Confederate soldiers. Montgomery Parks staff wrote that one of the owners is a member of the United Daughters of the Confederacy and the owners have indicated they’d create a temporary parking area for visitors on days the farm is open to the public.
Parks staff wrote that drawbacks to placing the statue at Edgehill Farm include a lack of oversight over any display that goes along with the statue. The owners have also said they’d allow visitors to come to the farm a few times each year, possibly during the county’s official celebration of historic sites, but it would not be as open as other publically owned sites.
Meanwhile, the county is looking for public input on where to move the statue.
The County Council put out a press release Thursday saying all comments submitted by Sept. 9 will be considered before Leggett’s presentation Sept. 17.
Comments can be sent to email@example.com or 100 Maryland Ave., Rockville, Md. 20850.
“I am pleased there will be comprehensive public discussion about the relocation of the statue,” Leggett said in the press release. “I look forward to receiving the views of the residents of the county.”