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Virginia Department of Historic Resources

127-0181 Robert E. Lee Monument

Robert E. Lee Monument
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For additional information, read the Nomination Form PDF

NPS property number 06001213

Richmond’s grand Monument Avenue began with the unveiling of the Robert E. Lee Monument on May 29, 1890. The equestrian statue by French sculptor Marius Jean Antonin Mercié was intended to memorialize Lee’s military accomplishments but came also to portend the emergence of the South from the difficulty of Reconstruction. Mercié’s design is of outstanding artistic quality; a masterpiece of French academic sculpture. Its site west of the city was also intended to encourage the growth of a prestigious neighborhood in a previously underdeveloped area. The erection of the statue followed a nearly two decade-long series of campaigns to raise funds and select a design, but its presentation to the public resulted in the largest gathering in Richmond since the inauguration of Jefferson Davis as president of the Confederacy in 1862, with as many as 150,000 participants. The monument provided a physical icon for the cult of the “Lost Cause,” and has come to symbolize the changing image of Lee in the American mind, as well as the development of Monument Avenue as a cultural landscape of national significance.


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

Updated April 4, 2018