Monumental Decisions: The Legacy and Future of Civil War Markers in Our Public Spaces

Monumental Decisions: The Legacy and Future of Civil War Markers in Our Public Spaces

Date: Saturday February 3rd

Time: 2:00 pm to 3:30 pm

Where: Pack Memorial Library, Lord Auditorium, lower level.

This event is free and open to the public.

Sponsored by the Friends of the North Carolina Room

Like any local history room, our goal is to add historical information, not to take it away.

Vance Monument, photograph by Richard Hansley, 2010

Do you know that Asheville erected three monuments in the same day and all were placed in front of the 1903 Buncombe County Courthouse? This was the first and only time in state history when multiple Civil War monuments were dedicated in a single event. That day was November 8, 1905.


Special guest speaker: Professor Fitzhugh Brundage, Chair of UNC Chapel Hill’s History Department, will headline a program on interpreting and dealing with Civil War monuments. The title of Professor Brundage’s talk will be, “A Vexing and Awkward Debate: The Legacy of a Confederate Landscape?”

Professor Fitzhugh Brundage, Professor of History, William B. Umstead Distinguished Professor; Department Chair

Other speakers: The program will begin with two brief presentations by local historians.

Roy Harris will survey Buncombe County’s Confederate monuments—when and how they came into existence.

Jon Elliston will review the history of the local white supremacy movement that undergirded the introduction of the monuments.

Questions about how Confederate monuments’ proper places will be decided came to a cataclysm in Charlottesville, Va., last August, causing one death, multiple injuries and an acceleration of the evolving national debate. Locally, disputes over what to do with fixtures as prominent as Asheville’s Vance Monument have led to heated discussions and soul-searching about a path forward.

Confederate Monument (also known as “Thrash’s Monument”) Montmorenci Methodist Church, Candler, NC. Dedicated August 8, 1903.

The focus of this program is to present when and where monuments were placed, who placed them, who paid for them, and a look at how they were presented to the public when they were placed. We also hope to shed light on the social and political times of Asheville, Buncombe County and North Carolina, during the time that they were erected.

Robert E. Lee Dixie Highway Marker erected by the United Daughters of the Confederacy “in loving memory of Robert E. Lee” located in the center of Pack Square in front of the Vance Monument. Dedicated May 2, 1926.

Professor Fitz Brundage, who received both his masters and PhD from Harvard University in the 1980s, has since become a leading scholar of the history of the American South, with a focus on the historical memory of white and black populations in the post-Civil War era. He has spearheaded Commemorative Landscapes of North Carolina, an ongoing online project to document the state’s monuments and their meanings.

This is a link to his site documenting Buncombe County’s monuments. Commemorative Landscapes.

Post by North Carolina Room librarian Zoe Rhine


1 Comment

  1. Just wanted to thank you for a terrific program. Really put the proliferation of confederate monuments in the south in perspective.

    One comment though, please remind speakers to speak into the mic. I had a hard time hearing Mr. Harris, especially, and Dr. Brundage. Jon Elliston, on the other hand, came through loud and clear!

    Thanks so much!


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