Robert Edward Lee Sculpture

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With the exception of Richmond, no Virginia city during the 20th century boasted a more important collection of public sculpture than Charlottesville. The principal pieces of this body of work are the four sculptures donated by local philanthropist Paul Goodloe McIntire. For the Robert Edward Lee Sculpture, McIntire created a place worthy of a likeness of the Confederacy’s most distinguished general when in 1917 he purchased a block in the heart of downtown. Renamed Lee Park, it was the first of four public parks that McIntire gave to the city. The equestrian statue was commissioned from sculptor Henry Shrady that same year. Shrady died before completing the work and the statue was finished by Leo Lentelli in 1924. The powerful Robert Edward Lee Sculpture composition stood on an oval pedestal of pink granite design by Virginia-born architect Walter Dabney Blair.  In 2017, amid a broad national debate over Confederate monuments, Charlottesville’s city council voted to remove the the Lee statue and the Stonewall Jackson statue.  A “Unite the Right” rally in the city in the summer of 2017 protesting the decision turned violent, with one counterdemonstrator dying as a result. The statue was removed from the renamed Market Street Park in 2021, and in 2023 the Robert Edward Lee Sculpture was melted down, with the intention of re-using the bronze for a future public art installation.

Last Updated: March 19, 2024

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VLR: Virginia Landmarks Register
NPS: National Park Service
NRHP: National Register of Historic Places
NHL: National Historic Landmark

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