The battle over the location of the Confederate statue — officially known as “Soldiers Monument” — on the Daviess County Courthouse lawn took a new turn Friday.
Marcus Bosley, president of Marcus W. Bosley & Associates Inc., 1601 Frederica St., said he has signed a 99-year-lease with the United Daughters of the Confederacy to display the statue on the north side of his offices, which are located at the Frederica-Griffith Avenue intersection.
“We prefer that it remain at the courthouse,” Bosley said. “But if it has to move, it can move here.”
He said the lease is for $1 a year.
The UDC, Bosley said, has withdrawn its support for moving the statue to property it owns on U.S. 431 near Southern Oaks Elementary School.
That location was the scene of a Civil War skirmish known both as “The Battle of Panther Creek” and the “Battle of Sutherland’s Hill.”
In a letter to Daviess Fiscal Court, Bosley said, “This monument was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1997. With this recognition of historic reference, comes a stringent set of guidelines for protecting and preserving the monument. These guidelines mandate that it must be not only available to the public but also have protection from destruction or impairment.”
He said, “The site must also be wheelchair accessible. Nothing has changed in the last 23 years, as to its relevance or significance since the federal government deemed it worthy of preservation and placed under the protection of the 1966 National Historic Preservation Act.”
In 1997, 61 Civil War statues in Kentucky — most of them for the Confederacy — were added to the National Register.
Daviess Judge-Executive Al Mattingly, who favors moving the statue to the U.S. 431 property, said he disagrees with the contention that that site doesn’t meet the standards of the National Register.
“There are a lot of things I disagree with in that letter,” he said.
He said he doesn’t understand why they want to put it “in a stone’s throw of Owensboro High School, which has a lot of African-American students.”
The school is two blocks south of the proposed site.
Bosley said he wants the statue to stay where it’s been since September 1900.
He said he would donate the first $1,000 toward any statue that the NAACP wants to erect on the courthouse lawn.
“This is not about fighting the war again,” Bosley said. “It’s about how we came together after the war and learned to live together.”
He said, “There’s not a racist bone in my body. But that statue is not a symbol of hate and I want it displayed. I’m passionate about it and I don’t want to see it destroyed.”
The statue was created by Hungarian-American artist George Julian Zolnay.
Zolnay, known as the “Sculptor of the South,” wasn’t a southerner. He was born in Hungary on July 4, 1863.
Today, his works still stand in major cities from San Francisco to Washington, D.C.
They include the Pierre Laclede Monument and Confederate Monument, both in St. Louis; Jefferson Davis Monument in Richmond, Virginia; Sam Davis Monument in Nashville; Edgar Allan Poe Monument at the University of Virginia; Sequoyah statue in the U.S. Capitol and the Sam Davis Monument, War Memorial and sculpture for the Parthenon, all in Nashville.
The Most Rev. William Medley, bishop of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Owensboro; The Rev. Rhondalyn Randolph, president of the local chapter of the NAACP; and others have called for moving the statue from public property.
“The monument might properly be preserved and displayed in a museum setting where its fuller history can be explained and the embarrassment it has represented may be acknowledged,” Medley wrote in a letter to the editor.
Fiscal Court was to consider a resolution on June 30 to relocate the 120-year-old statue to the U.S. 431 site.
But members voted 3-1 to postpone the vote until Aug. 6.
Earlier this week, a group of those in favor of the statue announced a “Save the Confederate Statue” rally for 10 a.m. Aug. 1 in front of the statue.
The group said speakers will include H.K. Edgerton, former president of the Asheville, North Carolina, chapter of the NAACP and African-American member of the Sons of Confederate Veterans.
Edgerton was in Owensboro in 2012 for a rally at the statue.
“I am really disturbed that someone would say that the Southern soldiers’ monument should not be here,” he told a crowd of about 30 people — all white.
Edgerton wore a Confederate uniform and waved a Confederate battle flag as he spoke.
He described himself as “a black Confederate activist.”
Keith Lawrence, 270-691-7301, firstname.lastname@example.org