Lettering removed from Jefferson Davis arch at Fort Monroe

Hampton

HAMPTON, Va. (WAVY) — The lettering on an arch at Fort Monroe honoring the former president of the Confederacy came down on Friday.

10 On Your Side was there as the letters — which said “Jefferson Davis Memorial Park” — came down.

“Today is a day we conclude a very long process that started in April,” said Glen Oder, the Fort Monroe Authority executive director.

This comes months after Gov. Ralph Northam requested the arch’s removal.

Northam said in a letter to a member of the Fort Monroe Authority Board of Trustees that it was “critical” to address the issue before a series of events this month concerning the 400th commemoration of the arrival of the first enslaved Africans.

The board subsequently voted unanimously on April 18 in favor of the arch’s removal.

A powerpoint presentation shown at a public meeting on July 29 shows it was determined the removal of the entire arch would potentially damage adjacent historic properties in the Fort Monroe Historic Landmark District.

The Fort Monroe Historic Preservation Officer recommended instead altering the letters on the arch and preserving them in the Casemate Museum.

Oder says the arch was built in the 1950s honoring the former Confederate president who was held at the fort after the Civil War ended.

Interpretive signs will go near the park and explain what the arch means.
The letters will be placed with an already existing Jefferson Davis exhibit inside the Casemate.

“This is allowing us to tell history the way it was intended to be told in terms of when the arch was installed, why it was installed and what it would mean, and it will allow people interpret themselves of what the arch means for them,” he said.

Officials hope this will help spark much needed dialogue in anticipation of the 400th Commemoration later this month and say its Fort Monroe’s mission to bring people together to have these discussion in a open and safe environment.

“Fort Monroe is an amazing place where we are able to initiate conversations our country has never had before,” Oder said.

There are no plans to rename the memorial park. Oder says the letters could be placed back on the arch in the future. 

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