PHOTO BY DANNY WICENTOWSKI
The Confederate Monument that has sat in Forest Park for more than a century has a new owner — and they're going to be permitted not only to take it, but to pay for the privilege.
Under a legal settlement announced this morning, the monument will go to the Missouri Civil War Museum, which filed a lawsuit earlier this month attempting to exert ownership
The museum won a key battle last week when a judge agreed to block the city from removing the monument until its legal argument could be heard. A trial had been set for next month.
In a press release issued this morning, Mayor Lyda Krewson said she'd agreed to hand over the monument to avoid costly litigation. "This issue has played out for far too long," Krewson said. "This settlement agreement is the best way to move forward and put this issue behind us."
After years of dormancy, the 102-year-old statue became a big public issue again this year
, following movements in New Orleans and other Southern cities to remove such monuments. Krewson had vowed to remove the 32-foot shaft using a combination of public and private funds — and city crews even began the work of taking off its top
But those plans got more complicated three weeks ago, when the Missouri Civil War Museum announced that it had been gifted the statue by the United Daughters of the Confederacy. That group indisputably paid for the memorial and its installation in Forest Park more than a century ago, but the museum pointed to something previously unnoticed: a 1912 city ordinance that assigned maintenance for the memorial to the Daughters of the Confederacy. The museum argued that meant the Daughters had every right to transfer it — and the city did not have the right to destroy it.
This morning, Krewson announced that the city would be relinquishing its claim on the monument, saying in a press release
Although it is our position that the City controls the monument and would have prevailed in court, the City has entered into this agreement to avoid protracted legal proceedings and move forward immediately with the monument’s removal. This is an outcome both parties wanted.
As part of the settlement, the Civil War Museum has agreed that the monument will be stored at their expense until a permanent location is found. That permanent location must be at a Civil War museum, battlefield or cemetery. Further, the Civil War Museum has agreed that the monument will not be displayed or located in the City of St. Louis or in St. Louis County.
No word yet on where that new location will be.
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