Monument Avenue

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Monument Avenue Historic District
Monument avenue richmond virginia.jpg
Former Location of Jefferson Davis Memorial on Monument Avenue, Richmond, Virginia
Monument Avenue is located in Virginia
Monument Avenue
Monument Avenue is located in the United States
Monument Avenue
LocationBounded by Grace and Birch Sts., Park Ave., and Roseneath Rd.; Roughly, Franklin St. from Roseneath Rd. to Cleveland St., Richmond, Virginia
Coordinates 37°33′30″N 77°28′04″W / 37.55833°N 77.46778°W / 37.55833; -77.46778
Latitude and Longitude:

37°33′30″N 77°28′04″W / 37.55833°N 77.46778°W / 37.55833; -77.46778
ArchitectPope, John Russell; Et al.
Architectural styleGeorgian, Other, Gothic Revival
NRHP reference  No. 70000883 [1]
VLR  No.127-0174
Significant dates
Added to NRHPFebruary 16, 1970
Designated NHLDDecember 9, 1997 [3]
Designated VLRDecember 2, 1969, December 12, 1989 [2]

Monument Avenue is a tree-lined grassy mall dividing the east- and westbound traffic in Richmond, Virginia known for its monuments memorializing Confederate veterans of the American Civil War. Partially deconstructed monuments of J. E. B. Stuart, Stonewall Jackson, Jefferson Davis and Matthew Fontaine Maury remain after removal of bronze statues from their memorial pedestals during a purported emergency of civil unrest in July 2020. [4] Two intact monuments still retain their bronze statues: the late tennis champion Arthur Ashe memorializing a black American (dedicated in 1996), and the Robert E. Lee monument (dedicated in 1890). Between 1900 and 1925, Monument Avenue greatly expanded with architecturally significant houses, churches and apartment buildings. [5]

In the wake of the protests that followed the murder of George Floyd in 2020, the Davis monument was torn down by protestors, while the Lee monument was ordered to be removed by Governor Ralph Northam. [6] In July 2020, Richmond mayor Levar Stoney directed removal of the Confederate monuments on city-owned land.

Monument Avenue is the site of several annual events, particularly in the spring, including an annual Monument Avenue 10K race. [7] At various times (such as Robert E. Lee's birthday and Confederate History Month) the Sons of Confederate Veterans gather along Monument Avenue in period military costumes. Monument Avenue is also the site of "Easter on Parade", [8] another spring tradition during which many Richmonders stroll the avenue wearing Easter bonnets and other finery.

"Monument Avenue Historic District" includes the part of Monument Avenue beginning at the termination of West Franklin Street at Stuart Circle in the east, extending westward for some fourteen blocks to Roseneath Avenue, and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places as a National Historic Landmark District. [9] In 2007, the American Planning Association named Monument Avenue one of the 10 Great Streets in the country. [10] The APA said Monument Avenue was selected for its historic architecture, urban form, quality residential and religious architecture, diversity of land uses, public art and integration of multiple modes of transportation. [11]


Confederate Parade on Monument Ave, Richmond, Virginia

Monument Avenue was conceived during a site search for a memorial statue of General Robert E. Lee after Lee's death in 1870. Richmond citizens had been wanting to erect statues for three Virginians who had helped defend the city (two of whom were killed in the defense). City plans as early as 1887 show the proposed site, a circle of land, just past the end of West Franklin Street, a premier downtown residential avenue. The land was owned by a wealthy Richmonder, Otway C. Allen. The plan for the statue included building a grand avenue extending west lined with trees along a central grassy median. The plan shows building plots which Allen intended to sell to developers and those wishing to build houses on the new grand avenue.

On May 29, 1890, crowds were estimated at 100,000 to view the unveiling of the first monument, to Robert E. Lee. [12]

It would take about 10 years for wealthy Richmonders and speculative developers to start buying the lots and building houses along the avenue, but in the years between 1900 and 1925 Monument Avenue exploded with architecturally significant houses, churches and apartment buildings. The architects who built on Monument Avenue practiced in the region and nationally, and included the firms of John Russell Pope, William Bottomley, Duncan Lee, Marcellus Wright, Claude Howell, Henry Baskervill, D. Wiley Anderson and Albert Huntt. Speculative builders such as W. J. Payne, Harvey C. Brown and the Davis Brothers bought lots and built many houses to sell to those not designing with an architect.

The street was once a favored living area for Richmond's upper class. It (especially the Fan District section) is lined with large mansions from the end of the Gilded Age. The Museum District part of Monument Avenue includes a combination of such houses (especially in the 3100 block), apartment buildings and smaller single-family houses. West of Interstate 195, Monument Avenue becomes a more commonplace suburban avenue.

Through the decades the avenue has had its ups and downs. As early as 1910, but mostly during the 1950s and '60s, many of the large houses were subdivided into apartments, or interior rooms and carriage houses were let to boarders. A few houses were demolished to make way for parking lots or building expansions, and several modern additions were tucked between earlier existing buildings. But protections put in place by the city by designating Monument Avenue as an Old and Historic Neighborhood have helped maintain the integrity of the neighborhood. In 1969 a group was incorporated called The Residents and Associates for the Preservation of Monument Avenue, led by Zayde Rennolds Dotts (Mrs. Walter Dotts, Jr.), [13] granddaughter of Beulah and John Kerr Branch, who had commissioned a house on Monument Avenue in 1914 by the firm of John Russell Pope. In 1970 the group changed its name to the Monument Avenue Preservation Society (MAPS).

Virginia 418.svg

From 1981 to 1988, just over 1 mile (1.6 km) of Monument Avenue between Malvern Avenue (VA 197) and Arthur Ashe Boulevard (VA 161) was officially designated as unsigned State Route 418. [14] [15]

In August 2017, following statue-related violence incited by extremist groups in Charlottesville, VA, Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney announced that the city's Monument Avenue commission would include potential removal of the Confederate monuments as an option for dealing with the issues raised by statues honoring veterans who died fighting for the Confederacy. [16]. At that time, removal of such statues was not permitted at the local level under Virginia law. [17][ dubious ] In April 2020, a law allowing local jurisdictions to remove monuments other than in cemeteries and the Virginia Military Institute was enacted to take effect in July 2020. [18] On June 10th, 2020, protestors tore down the statue of Jefferson Davis from its pedestal. [19] On July 1, 2020 the statue of Stonewall Jackson was removed by the city of Richmond followed with the removal of the Maury statue and the defensive cannon display on July 2. Mayor Stoney announced plans to remove a total of 11 confederate memorials. [20]


External video
Monument Avenue (5:34), C‑SPAN [21]

Monument Avenue previously included several statues dedicated to Confederate military and political figures, including:

Monument Sculpture Unvieled Removed
Robert E. Lee Monument Antonin Mercié May 29, 1890 pending removal
J. E. B. Stuart Monument Frederick Moynihan May 30, 1907 July 7, 2020
Jefferson Davis Memorial Edward Valentine June 3, 1907 June 10, 2020
Stonewall Jackson Monument Frederick William Sievers October 11, 1919 July 1, 2020
Matthew Fontaine Maury Monument Frederick William Sievers November 11, 1929 July 2, 2020.

The Avenue also includes at least one statue dedicated to notable Richmond natives, including:

J.E.B. Stuart Monument

Monument Avenue begins on the east at a traffic circle known as Stuart Circle, located at the termination of West Franklin Street and the cross street of North Lombardy. In Stuart Circle was the J. E. B. Stuart Monument, an equestrian bronze statue that sat atop a granite base. The statue, sculpted by Fred Moynihan of New York, was the second monument unveiled on Monument Avenue, in 1907, and was inspired by the statue of British Lieutenant General Sir James Outram in Kolkata, India. Stuart is turned in the saddle facing east while the horse faces north. The horse's stance has been viewed as being awkward by many Virginians. [22]

Plans for the Stuart statue were first discussed publicly as early as 1875; however the competition was not held until 1903. Fitzhugh Lee again chaired the selection committee, as he had for the Lee Monument. The site location was chosen in 1904. At the same time plans for the third monument, to Jefferson Davis, were being planned for further west at Monument Avenue and Cedar Street. The dual unveiling drew crowds even larger than for the Lee unveiling. Crowds were estimated between 80,000 and 200,000, including 18,000 veteran attendees who camped out for the week. [23]

The statue of Stuart was removed by the City of Richmond on July 7, 2020. The empty pedestal remains. [24]

Robert E. Lee Monument

One block west of Stuart Circle is Lee Circle, the large traffic circle containing the Robert E. Lee Monument. Dedicated in 1890, the Lee Monument was the first and is the largest of the street's monuments. [25]

Jefferson Davis Memorial

Four blocks to the west of Lee Circle was the Jefferson Davis Memorial, a tall central column surrounded by a Doric colonnade, unveiled in 1907 along with the J.E.B. Stuart Monument. The United Daughters of the Confederacy (UDC) had been appealing to include a Davis memorial and in 1904 the first addition to the plan was made. This was the former location of Star Fort, the innermost westward protection for Richmond. The defenses were also marked by a cannon just to the east of where the Davis statue once stood.

Following the protests surrounding the murder of George Floyd, the bronze statue of Davis himself was removed by protestors on June 10th, 2020. The remainder of the monument is pending removal.

Stonewall Jackson Monument

Three blocks west of the location of the Davis Memorial was the equestrian statue of Stonewall Jackson, located at the intersection of Monument Avenue and North Arthur Ashe Boulevard.

The monument was removed on July 1, 2020. The empty pedestal remains. [26]

Matthew Fontaine Maury Monument

Maury Monument

The "Pathfinder of the Seas" monument of Matthew Fontaine Maury was located on Monument Avenue at Belmont Avenue, [27] closest to the Arthur Ashe Monument.

In 1915 the Matthew Fontaine Maury Association was founded with the purpose of erecting a monument to Maury though serious fundraising did not happen until after the end of the First World War. Eventually the United Daughters of the Confederacy joined in the fundraising, the State of Virginia and the City of Richmond each donated $1,000, and even President Wilson, a native Virginian, joined the Association. [28]

The committee selected Richmond sculptor Frederick William Sievers, the author of many Lost Cause memorials, to produce the work and he created the "most allegorical of Richmond's monuments." [29] The monument was unveiled as part of an Armistice Day celebration on November 11, 1929. [30] The Maury statue was removed on July 2, 2020.

The figure of Maury faces eastward, toward the Atlantic Ocean that the "Pathfinder of the Seas" charted. He holds in his left hand a pencil and compass and in his right hand a copy of his charts. Beside his left foot is his book, Physical Geography of the Sea, as well as a Bible, indicating the central role that faith played in Maury's life. A globe of the Earth is tilted slightly on its axis behind his head. It represents both land and sea, and the woman standing calmly is a representation of Mother Nature between the land and sea. Around the base of the globe are depictions of people clinging to a sinking boat in bad weather representing the dangers of the sea with a woman in the center, and on the right (north) side of the globe there is a farmer, boy and a dog representing Maury's work promoting land weather service, which dates back further than 1853. Maury attended the International Meteorological Organization in Brussels, Belgium on August 23, 1853, where Maury, leading the way for this conference with his ideas of land and sea weather predictions and representing the United States, promoted his ideas of safety on both land and at sea to many nations which agreed to follow his ideas. Every maritime nation had its ships reporting to Maury at the National (later Naval) Observatory in Washington D.C. These elements represent Maury's work with atmospheric science, to the benefit of all mankind and their enterprises on land and on the sea. Weather warnings and reports had been dreams of Maury during his lifetime up until when he died and he was successful in his work. He thought of the ships at sea as "a thousand temples of science for all of humanity" and believed these brought men and nations closer together in a common self-protection against storms and deaths. There are fish, dolphins, jellyfish and birds around the monument's perimeter.

The statue of Maury was removed on July 2, 2020, and the globe followed on July 9.

Arthur Ashe Monument

The decision to place the statue of Arthur Ashe by Paul DiPasquale on Monument Avenue was controversial. [31] Detractors pointed to a lack of correlation between the Richmond native tennis star and Confederate leaders. Some residents thought the monument should be placed at the Arthur Ashe Athletic Center instead. The monument became a focal point of racial tensions in the city around the times of its commission and its unveiling. Many of the city's majority African American residents cited Ashe's distinguished place in the modern history of the city as a reason for inclusion, while some residents and other parties rejected it as inappropriate for Monument Avenue, which until 1996 contained only statues of men with a relationship to the Confederate States of America.

The controversy over the statue may have also been driven by design and placement choices. Ashe's statue is much smaller than those of most of the Confederate leaders and is the farthest from downtown Richmond, situated just outside the city's Fan district.


The Confederate memorials on Monument Avenue have been the source of controversy since they were first built. [32] Opponents have pointed to these roots in the " Lost Cause" and Virginia's " Massive Resistance" to racial integration of public schools to argue that the statues symbolize white supremacy and should be removed or revised. [33] Proponents of preservation recognize the monuments as veterans memorials erected to commemorate the hundreds of thousands of soldiers and citizens who died fighting for the South during the Civil War. [34] The removal movement gained momentum following a similar controversy with Charlottesville, Virginia's Robert E. Lee statue and the subsequent events of the "Unite The Right" rally on August 11–12, 2017. [35]

In late 2017, Mayor Levar Stoney announced the formation of a "Monument Avenue Commission" to solicit the public's input and ultimately provide recommendations on the future of the monuments. [36] In mid-2018, the Commission issued its recommendations, calling for the removal of the Jefferson Davis monument while attaching permanent signage "reinterpreting" the Lee, Jackson, Stuart and Maury monuments. [37]

During the protests that erupted after George Floyd's death in Minneapolis, the statues again became a focal point in Richmond. They became a frequent site for protests and were covered in graffiti, signs, artwork, and surrounded with materials such as candles and flowers. [38] In June of 2020, Governor Ralph Northam announced plans to remove the Lee monument from the avenue. [39] Further, Mayor Stoney announced plans to remove the other four Confederate statues. [40] The City of Richmond began work to remove the city-controlled statues, beginning with the Stonewall Jackson monument, on July 1, 2020. [41] Matthew Maury's statue was removed on July 2, and J. E. B. Stuart's on July 7. [42]

See also


  1. ^ "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. January 23, 2007.
  2. ^ "Virginia Landmarks Register". Virginia Department of Historic Resources. Retrieved 19 March 2013.
  3. ^ "Monument Avenue Historic District". National Historic Landmark summary listing. National Park Service. Archived from the original on 2012-10-06. Retrieved 2008-06-27.
  4. ^ "Lawsuit seeks to halt Stoney from removing Richmond's Confederate iconography; heritage group wants statues". Richmond Times-Dispatch. 7/8/20. Retrieved 7/10/20. Check date values in: |access-date=, |date= ( help)
  5. ^ "Monument Avenue Preservation Zone" (PDF). National Register of Historic Inventory - Nomination Form. VA DHR. December 2, 1969.
  6. ^ "Statue of Jefferson Davis Torn Down". Richmond Times. Richmond Times-Dispatch. June 10, 2020.
  7. ^ Richmond Approves Monument to Ashe, New York Times, Retrieved on July 28, 2007
  8. ^ Venture Richmond Archived 2007-02-03 at the Wayback Machine
  9. ^ "Monument Avenue Preservation Zone" (PDF). National Register of Historic Inventory - Nomination Form. VA DHR. December 2, 1969.
  10. ^ Monument Avenue
  11. ^ Richmond's own 'Great Street' - News - Archived 2007-08-23 at
  12. ^ Boritt & Holzer, The Confederate Image: Prints of the Lost Cause
  13. ^ "Preservationist Zayde R. Dotts dies". Richmond Times Distpatch, Sept 29, 2007. Archived from the original on 2013-02-04.
  14. ^ State Highway and Transportation Commission (Missing—please add the date of 09-1981-01 to Template:CTB minutes, and check if the default location (Richmond) is correct.). Minutes of Meeting (PDF) (Report). Richmond, VA: Commonwealth of Virginia. p. 24. Check date values in: |date= ( help)
  15. ^ Virginia Highways Project: VA 418
  16. ^ Times-Dispatch, MARK ROBINSON Richmond. "Mayor Stoney: Commission to consider removal of Confederate statues on Richmond's Monument Ave". Richmond Times-Dispatch. Retrieved 2017-09-18.
  17. ^
  18. ^ Zach Rosenthal (April 13, 2020). "New law allows Virginia localities to remove Confederate statues and monuments". Cavalier Daily. Retrieved 2020-07-01.
  19. ^ Times-Dispatch, ZACH JOACHIM AND JOHANNA ALONSO Richmond. "Statue of Jefferson Davis torn down on Monument Avenue". Richmond Times-Dispatch. Retrieved 2020-06-11.
  20. ^ Denise Lavoie; Alan Suderman (July 1, 2020). "Stonewall Jackson removed from Richmond's Monument Avenue". Associated Press. Retrieved 2020-07-01.
  21. ^ "Monument Avenue". C-SPAN. November 29, 2010. Retrieved March 16, 2013.
  22. ^ Sarah S. Driggs (August 1997). "Monument Avenue Historic District" (PDF). National Historic Landmark Nomination. US Department of the Interior, National Park Services. p. 8.
  23. ^ Sarah S. Driggs (August 1997). p. 46
  24. ^
  25. ^ Robert A. Carter and Jennifer W. Murdock (August 2006). "Robert E. Lee Monument" (PDF). National Register of Historic Places Inventory/Nomination. VA Department of Historic Resources, Sec: 7. p. 1.
  26. ^ Helsel, Phil (1 July 2020). "Stonewall Jackson statue down after Richmond mayor orders removal of Confederate monuments". NBC News. Retrieved 2 July 2020.
  27. ^ DuPriest, James E., Jr. and Douglas O. Tice, Jr., Monument & Boulevard: Richmond;s Grand Avenues, A Richmond Discoveries Publication, Richmond, VA 1996 p. 19
  28. ^ DuPriest, James E., Jr. and Douglas O. Tice, Jr., Monument & Boulevard: Richmond;s Grand Avenues, A Richmond Discoveries Publication, Richmond, VA 1996 p. 20
  29. ^ DuPriest 1996, p. 20.
  30. ^ DuPriest 1996, p. 21.
  31. ^ Richmond Approves Monument to Ashe, New York Times, Retrieved on July 28, 2007
  32. ^ "On Monument Ave: Controversial From The Start". American Civil War Museum. Retrieved 9 May 2018.
  33. ^ Epps, Garrett. "The Motionless Ghosts That Haunt the South". The Atlantic. Retrieved 9 May 2018.
  34. ^ Removing statues removes a chance to educate, Richmond Times-Dispatch, Retrieved on June 14, 2018
  35. ^ "Rally Planned by Tennessee Group to Protect Lee Monument in Richmond". RVA Mag. Retrieved 10 May 2018.
  36. ^ Robinson, Mark. "Stoney's Monument Avenue Commission schedules five meetings". Richmond Times-Dispatch. Retrieved 9 May 2018.
  37. ^ Monument Avenue Commission: Remove Jefferson Davis monument, reinterpret others honoring Confederacy. Mark Robinson. Richmond Times-Dispatch. 2 July 2018.
  38. ^ "PHOTOS: Richmond's Monument Avenue during the recent Black Lives Matter protests". Richmond Times-Dispatch. Retrieved 2020-06-07.
  39. ^ Virginia Governor to Announce Removal of Lee Statue
  40. ^ Stoney to propose removing all Confederate statues from Monument Avenue
  41. ^ [1]
  42. ^

Further reading

  • Driggs, Sarah Shields; Richard Guy Wilson; Robert P. Winthrop (2001). Richmond's Monument Avenue. Chapel Hill, North Carolina: University of North Carolina Press.
  • Williams, Frances Leigh (1963). Matthew Fontaine Maury Scientist of the Sea. New Brunswick, New Jersey: Rutgers University Press.
  • DuPriest, James E., Jr.; Douglas O. Tice (1996). Monument & Boulevard: Richmond's Grand Avenues. Richmond Discoveries. ISBN  0-941087-03-4.

External links