DALEVILLE – Botetourt County’s Confederate monument will be moved, but where to relocate the obelisk was discussed at the Oct. 22 meeting of the county’s Monument and Memorial Committee.
While no decision was made on where the nearly-120-year-old monument’s new home is to be, the pros and cons of several locations were discussed with sites in either Greenfield or Fincastle.
In an earlier meeting, Cody Sexton, assistant to the county administrator, was tasked with investigating a 0.1-acre plot of county-owned land at Roanoke Street and Route 220 that could be used as a possible site for the monument. The road leading to the plot is paved and state-maintained.
The question asked was is the plot – Fincastle Gateway – large enough for the approximate five-foot by five-foot wide-base, 20-foot-high monument and future memorials the committee would recommend adding? The committee learned an adjacent piece of land is for sale as an industrial/business site.
Additionally, members wondered if the old roadbed was included in the property. Sexton said he hasn’t had a chance to research and copy the plot, as the courthouse has limited hours during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Another suggestion was the Botetourt Historical Museum. Members said it might be appropriate for the obelisk to be integrated in the museum site. However, it was pointed out that the current West Main Street location doesn’t include much surrounding land. Also, it was unclear how the area will change with the redesign and construction of the Courthouse Square Project.
Some on the committee asked about placing it somewhere else on the Courthouse Square, perhaps by the former jail. Again, space could be an issue, the committee agreed. A con of keeping it in Courthouse Square, the committee asked, does it actually address the issue for citizens who find the monument offensive.
The Greenfield Preservation Area is another possible site for relocation. While the site is large enough and the county has invested significant money to study and plan the park, is the Greenfield Preservation Area a good fit, given the intent of the proposed part is to preserve the history of slavery in the area, the group questioned.
After the meeting, some members reexamined the county’s Master Plan. It reads in part, “preservation and interpretation of the historic resources in the Greenfield Preservation Area so that county residents and visitors can understand and appreciate the significant role Colonel William Preston and Botetourt County played in the settlement of Southwest Virginia and beyond. Additionally, the surviving dependency buildings and their associated archaeological resources provide valuable insight into the cultural history of African Americans who lived and worked on the property from slavery through emancipation and independence.”
Some on the committee agreed the presence of a Confederate monument at the park is likely counter to the objective of the Preservation Area.
Fincastle’ Big Spring Park was also discussed as a possible relocation site. Located on Back Street, the park has enough space. The council asked Pam Binns, who represents Fincastle on the committee and is a Town Council member, if the town would consider moving the monument to its park. “The town doesn’t have an official position on the monument at this time and has not addressed its location on county property …,” she said, adding she’ll bring it up at the Nov. 12 council meeting.
As mentioned in past meetings, an ideal site would allow for the creation of a “memorial park,” a place where memorials honoring veterans from other wars could be erected.
While no decision was made on a new site for the Confederate Monument, a majority of the committee agreed that obelisk should not be placed in storage during the construction phase of the Courthouse Square project, allowing more time to identify an appropriate place.
In other matters, Ayden Kinion, a Botetourt County homeschooler, and Parker Hudson, a student at Lord Botetourt High School, joined the committee. A student from James River High School is still needed.