Neighborhood Association Backs Removal Of AP Hill Statue, Remains
The Hermitage Road Historic District Association is calling for the removal of the statue to A.P. Hill in Richmond’s Northside.
Over the weekend, the association had a special meeting on whether to call on local officials to remove or relocate the statue, which sits at the intersection of Hermitage Road and Laburnum Avenue. Members present voted unanimously to support removal, according to association president Bob Balster. It was the first time the Hermitage Road Historic District has taken a position on the monument.
Balster said the association could no longer ignore the issue after the city’s Confederate monuments became a focal point of more than a month of Black Lives Matter protests.
“I don’t believe that the association really thought that much about the symbolism associated with that monument,” Balster said. “It was just something sitting at the end of our block. I think with the awareness brought upon by all of the discussions happening made it seem like the timing was ripe.”
Richmond City Council is expected to begin the process of removing some Confederate monuments at a special meeting this week. It’s not clear whether the Hill statue will make the list of statues to be removed, though.
Unlike the four city-owned statues along Monument Avenue, the remains of the Confederate Lieutenant General are actually buried underneath his statue. The remains of Hill were originally interred in Chesterfield County in 1865 and were moved to Hollywood Cemetery two years later. His remains were moved again to Hermitage Road by the Hill Monument Association in the early 1890s.
Hill was one of the most prominent leaders in the Confederate military. He served under Thomas Jonathan “Stonewall” Jackson and Robert E. Lee.
Because the Hill statue is both a war memorial and a historic gravesite, the legal process for removal is murkier.
Interim City Attorney Haskell Brown said his office is currently researching the ownership and removal restrictions surrounding the statue.
“We are aware of the cemetery issue and there are obviously different state regulations and rules that apply when you are disturbing a potential gravesite,” Brown said.
Under state law, anyone who unlawfully disinters a human body could face a class 4 felony.
City Council Vice President Chris Hilbert, who represents the area, said he supports relocating the statue and Hill’s remains. But he said it may be more efficient to deal with the statues on Monument Avenue first.
“Certainly we should bite this off into chunks where you can handle them, rather than be overwhelmed with every monument, symbol and street name at once,” he said. “Let’s concentrate on Monument Avenue and get a process in place whereby we can address the others.”
The Hermitage Road neighborhood association is requesting that the Hill statue be removed immediately while officials decide what to do with his remains.