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“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
Richmond, Virginia — The American South (Mid-Atlantic)
 

Robert E. Lee Monument

 
 
Robert E. Lee Monument image. Click for full size.
By Bill Coughlin, April 21, 2007
1. Robert E. Lee Monument
While most monuments contain lengthy descriptions of the subject, this monument contains only the word "Lee," a tribute to the popularity of the Civil War General.
Inscription.  Lee
 
Erected 1890 by the Lee Monument Commission.
 
Topics and series. This memorial monument is listed in this topic list: War, US Civil. In addition, it is included in the National Historic Landmarks series list.
 
Location. Marker has been permanently removed. It was located near 37° 33.23′ N, 77° 27.608′ W. Marker was in Richmond, Virginia. Memorial was at the intersection of Monument Avenue and N Allen Avenue, in the median on Monument Avenue. Touch for map. Marker was in this post office area: Richmond VA 23220, United States of America. Touch for directions.
 
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this location. First Regiment of Virginia Infantry (about 600 feet away, measured in a direct line); Site of Richmond College (approx. 0.2 miles away); Hartshorn Memorial College (approx. 0.4 miles away); The Equal Suffrage League of Virginia (approx. 0.4 miles away); Maggie Lena Walker (approx. half a mile away); Jefferson Davis (approx. half a mile away); Richmond Professional Institute (approx. half a mile away); Founders Hall (approx. half a mile away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Richmond.
 
More about this monument. Bronze by Marius Jean Antonin Mercie (1845-1916) is 21 feet high on a 40 foot granite and marble base. The sculpture cost nearly $17,000 and the base cost between $10,000 and $12,000. The base was designed by architect Paul Pujol and was executed by James Netherwood. The sculpture was exhibited in Paris before being dismantled and shipped to Richmond. —Smithsonian Art Inventories Catalog.
 
Related markers. Click here for a list of markers that are related to this marker. Take a tour of the monuments on “America’s Most Beautiful Boulevard.”
 
Also see . . .
Lee on Monument Avenue image. Click for full size.
By Bill Coughlin, April 21, 2007
2. Lee on Monument Avenue
The monument to Robert E. Lee was the first and is the largest on Monument Avenue.
Click or scan to see
this page online

1. Robert E. Lee. Biography of Lee from ‘The Men Behind the Myth: Who's Who Among Confederate Heroes’ webpage. (Submitted on June 11, 2009, by Bill Coughlin of Woodland Park, New Jersey.) 

2. Robert Edward Lee (1807-1870). Civil War Biography page. (Submitted on June 11, 2009, by Bill Coughlin of Woodland Park, New Jersey.) 

3. Robert E. Lee opposed Confederate monuments. 2017 story by Lisa Desjardins on the PBS News Hour. Excerpt:
“It’s often forgotten that Lee himself, after the Civil War, opposed monuments, specifically Confederate war monuments,” said Jonathan Horn, the author of the Lee biography, The Man Who Would Not Be Washington.

In his writings, Lee cited multiple reasons for opposing such monuments, questioning the cost of a potential Stonewall Jackson monument, for example. But underlying it all was one rationale: That the war had ended, and the South needed to move on and avoid more upheaval. ...

“Lee believed countries that erased visible signs of civil war recovered from conflicts quicker,” Horn said. “He was worried that by keeping these symbols alive, it would keep the divisions alive.”
(Submitted on June 11, 2020.) 

4. Wikipedia entry for this monument. Excerpt:
The cornerstone for the monument was placed on October 27, 1887. The statue arrived in Richmond by rail on May 4, 1890. Newspaper accounts indicate that 10,000 people helped pull four wagons with the pieces of the monument. The completed statue was unveiled on May 29, 1890. Two of Lee’s daughters, Mary Custis Lee and Mildred Childe Lee, attended the dedication.

Closeup of Robert E. Lee Statue image. Click for full size.
By Bill Coughlin, April 21, 2007
3. Closeup of Robert E. Lee Statue
The sculptor did not use the likeness of Traveler, General Lee's horse, in his sculpture. The horse depicted here is significantly larger than Traveler.
The site for the statue originally was offered in 1886. Richmond City annexed the land in 1892, but economic difficulties meant that the Lee Monument stood alone for several years in the middle of a tobacco field before development resumed in the early 1900s.

In 1992, the iron fence around the monument was removed, in part because drivers unfamiliar with traffic circles would run into the fence from time to time and force costly repairs. After the fences came down, the stone base became a popular sunbathing spot. In December 2006, the state completed an extensive cleaning and repair of the monument. It has been listed on the National Register of Historic Places since 2007, the Virginia Landmarks Register since 2006, and is located in the Monument Avenue Historic District.
(Submitted on June 11, 2020.) 
 
Lee Monument image. Click for full size.
By Bill Coughlin, April 21, 2007
4. Lee Monument
This photo was taken from the statue of J.E.B. Stuart, also on Monument Avenue.
An additional view of the Robert E. Lee statue looking toward the southeast along Monument Avenue. image. Click for full size.
By J. Makali Bruton, February 7, 2015
5. An additional view of the Robert E. Lee statue looking toward the southeast along Monument Avenue.
General R.E. Lee Monument and V.M.I. Cadets, Richmond, Va. image. Click for full size.
circa 1916
6. General R.E. Lee Monument and V.M.I. Cadets, Richmond, Va.
The Cadets of the Virginia Military Institute (the West Point of the South) are the pride of the whole state and are ready at the call of the Governor at all times. VCU Libraries Digital Collections - Rarely Seen Richmond
Robert E. Lee Monument, Defaced image. Click for full size.
By Mk17b via Wikimedia Commons (CC 4.0), July 1, 2020
7. Robert E. Lee Monument, Defaced
Robert E. Lee Monument as it stood on July 1, 2020 after the George Floyd Protests and while awaiting the result of a court battles between the Commonwealth of Virginia who wanted to remove it, and small group of nearby residents and a descendant of the family that granted the property to the state with a legal requirement that the state display the monument here in perpetuity.

On September 2, 2021 the Virginia Supreme Court ruled that “those restrictive covenants are unenforceable as contrary to public policy and for being unreasonable because their effect is to compel government speech, by forcing the Commonwealth to express, in perpetuity, a message with which it now disagrees.”
An additional marker near Lee Marker image. Click for full size.
By J. Makali Bruton, February 7, 2015
8. An additional marker near Lee Marker
This concrete block found just northwest of the Lee statue along Monument Avenue reads: "Monument Avenue Historic District has been designated a National Historic Landmark. This district possesses national significance in commemorating the history of the United States of America. This grand avenue retains a unique combination of commemorative sculpture, community planning and distinctive architecture from the late 19th and early 20th centuries. 1997. National Park Service, United States Department of the Interior." and "Donated by the Historic Monument Avenue and Fan District Foundation to the City of Richmond."
 
 
Credits. This page was last revised on September 8, 2021. It was originally submitted on June 11, 2009, by Bill Coughlin of Woodland Park, New Jersey. This page has been viewed 1,138 times since then and 51 times this year. Photos:   1, 2, 3, 4. submitted on June 11, 2009, by Bill Coughlin of Woodland Park, New Jersey.   5. submitted on February 15, 2015, by J. Makali Bruton of Querétaro, Mexico.   6. submitted on May 10, 2012, by Bernard Fisher of Richmond, Virginia.   7. submitted on September 2, 2021, by J. J. Prats of Powell, Ohio.   8. submitted on February 15, 2015, by J. Makali Bruton of Querétaro, Mexico.

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Sep. 19, 2021