Governor Glenn Youngkin announced his first two appointments to the Board of Historic Resources (BHR), including Richmond-area art historian Dr. Ann McLean, who has appeared both on Richmond’s Morning News with John Reid and Bacon’s Rebellion critical of efforts to rename the Jefferson-Madison Regional Library and destroy monuments. The other appointee is Hon. Aimee Jorjani, nominated by Trump to be the first full-time chair of the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation. The BHR is a seven-member group of governor-appointed Virginia citizens responsible for approving nominations to the Virginia Landmarks Register, to create new or revised state historic markers, and to hold historic preservation easements, according to its website.
“I think we should try to preserve the wonderful heritage that we have in Virginia and that our heritage has come under a vicious attack,” McLean told The Virginia Star.
The Lee Monument and the other Confederate statues from Richmond’s Monument Avenue will be given to the Black History Museum and Cultural Center of Virginia, which will partner with The Valentine and other Richmond organizations to determine the future of the objects. The Thursday announcement is the latest move from Governor Ralph Northam, who has been working to conclude removal of the controversial Lee Monument and remove state control of the monument and the land.
“Symbols matter and for too long, Virginia’s most prominent symbols celebrated our country’s tragic division and the side that fought to keep alive the institution of slavery by any means possible,” Northam said in a Thursday press release shared by NBC12 reporter Henry Graff.
Conservators at the Virginia Department of Historic Resources (DHR) opened a time capsule from the Lee Monument pedestal on Wednesday afternoon, but the capsule and its contents don’t match the description of a capsule reportedly placed in the monument in 1887, leading to speculation that there may be an additional capsule somewhere on site. Governor Ralph Northam and First Lady Pamela Northam were at the Department of Historic Resources at 12 p.m. for the opening of the box. Opening the box without damaging it took longer than expected, due to corrosion and masonry from the pedestal in the box seams.
“I’ve been asked a number of times if we’re going to use a torch,” Conservator Chelsea Blake said. “That’s not an option.”
Crews dismantling the Lee Monument pedestal in Richmond found what they believe to be an 1887 time capsule believed to contain Confederate memorabilia and a possible photograph of Abraham Lincoln, the Governor’s office announced Friday.
“Workers noticed something that looked ‘different’ this morning, so they chiseled down with a hammer and found the top of what appears to be the time capsule–located inside a large block, under one inch of cement. It was located approximately 20 feet in the air, in the tower, not in the pedestal’s base. It was located approximately 8 feet from the outside of the granite and about one foot from the edge of the core. It appears to be largely undamaged,” the announcement states.
After removing the huge statue of Lee from its pedestal on Wednesday, crews spent all day Thursday excavating a corner of the pedestal in search of an 1887 time capsule reportedly placed in the monument. But they never found it.
“Disappointing not to find the time capsule,” Governor Ralph Northam’s Chief of Staff Clark Mercer told reporters Thursday evening.
The Robert E. Lee statue that towered over Richmond for more than a century is on its way to storage. A crowd of a few hundred people peered through tree branches trying to watch from the public viewing site, and cheered as the monument was lifted off its pedestal. Crews cut along an original seam and removed Lee’s torso from the rest of the statue to allow transport by flatbed truck. The mood among the public was largely upbeat.
“It’s powerful for one day to dig in and celebrate, but you have to remember it’s just symbolic and it really doesn’t change anything about our lives. So we have to make real change,” Richmond resident Emily Gaidowski told The Virginia Star.
It’s thought that there is a time capsule in the pedestal of the Robert E. Lee monument in Richmond. The Virginia Supreme Court is expected to rule on whether or not the state can remove the monument, and in an announcement earlier this week Governor Ralph Northam said they will open the capsule when the monument is removed. He also invited Virginians to suggest new artifacts for a replacement time capsule to be placed at the site.