State’s only Confederate memorial will be removed
The state’s only Confederate memorial will be removed from Georges Island after Columbus Day weekend and temporarily put into storage at the Massachusetts Archives, according to the secretary of the Commonwealth’s office.
The headstone commemorates 13 Confederate soldiers who died while imprisoned at Fort Warren during the Civil War. The marker was installed in 1963 by the now-defunct Boston chapter of the United Daughters of the Confederacy, which is headquartered in Virginia.
“Our office has been in touch with [the Department of Conservation and Recreation] and they have informed us that they plan to remove the marker after the Columbus Day weekend, when the park is closed,” Debra O’Malley, a spokeswoman for Secretary of State William F. Galvin, wrote Monday in an e-mail. “When the marker is removed, DCR will transfer it to the State Archives for storage until it can be returned to the people who placed it on the island. It will remain in storage until then and will not be on display.”
The granite marker was boarded up four months ago, but remains on Georges Island. Governor Charlie Baker first called for its removal in June amid heated debates about Confederate memorials around the country.
Baker referred to the Georges Island memorial and others like it as “symbols . . . that do not support liberty and equality for the people of Massachusetts” and the nation.
Officials in cities such as New Orleans and Baltimore are removing Confederate statues, regarding them as symbols of white supremacy and racism. Some are grappling with how to preserve Confederate monuments — removing them to new locations and displaying them with more context about the Civil War and the Confederacy’s ties to slavery.
In a Sept. 12 form submitted to the Massachusetts Historical Commission, DCR officials requested that Galvin’s office store the memorial in the archives, located in Dorchester, “pending final disposition to an appropriate museum location.”
The form noted that no new construction is planned for the site once the monument is removed. The work will not affect the land around Fort Warren, which is designated a national historic landmark.
State officials said in the e-mail Monday that the DCR is “planning the safe removal and delivery of the memorial.”
They are considering giving the memorial back to the United Daughters of the Confederacy. A phone call to the UDC on Monday was not returned.
In August, Patricia M. Bryson, president general of the United Daughters of the Confederacy, made a statement about the removal of Confederate memorials on the organization’s website denouncing white supremacy.
“Join us in denouncing hate groups and affirming that Confederate memorial statues and monuments are part of our shared American history and should remain in place,” Bryson wrote.
Officials at the DCR say they haven’t determined a date for removal of the memorial.
Sean Hennessey, spokesman for the National Park Service, said he was told it would be sometime in the next few weeks.