Fayette County

Confederate statues quietly moved to Lexington Cemetery

The controversial statues of Confederate figures John Hunt Morgan, seen here, and John C. Breckinridge have been relocated to the Lexington Cemetery. They were removed from the lawn of the old Fayette County Courthouse in October 2017. The Morgan statue has been placed in the Confederate section of the cemetery while Breckinridge’s statue was placed in the Breckinridge family burial area in section G.
The controversial statues of Confederate figures John Hunt Morgan, seen here, and John C. Breckinridge have been relocated to the Lexington Cemetery. They were removed from the lawn of the old Fayette County Courthouse in October 2017. The Morgan statue has been placed in the Confederate section of the cemetery while Breckinridge’s statue was placed in the Breckinridge family burial area in section G. cbertram@herald-leader.com

Lexington quietly relocated Confederate-era statues of John Hunt Morgan and John C. Breckinridge to the Lexington Cemetery late Tuesday, more than eight months after the statues were removed from downtown Lexington and placed in storage.

“Today we are doing exactly what we said we would do,” city spokeswoman Susan Straub said in a statement Tuesday after the cemetery had closed. “The statues of John Hunt Morgan and John Breckinridge were moved out of storage this afternoon to The Lexington Cemetery. The statues are mounted on granite bases we installed this evening. “

Both men are buried in the cemetery. Breckinridge’s statue is in his family’s plot, near the grave of his father and wife. Hunt Morgan’s statue is in the Confederate cemetery. Lexington Cemetery also has a separate area for Union soldiers.

The city removed the statues from the lawn of the old Fayette County Courthouse in October. Breckinridge was a U.S. Vice President and the last Confederate Secretary of War. Hunt Morgan was a former Confederate general.

The statues had stood on Main Street for more than 100 years, on the same plot of ground where slave auctions were held before the Civil War.

For more than a year, an organization called Take Back Cheapside worked to persuade city officials to move them.

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The controversial statues of Confederate figures John C. Breckinridge, seen here, and John Hunt Morgan have been relocated to the Lexington Cemetery. They were removed from the lawn of the old Fayette County Courthouse in October 2017. The Morgan statue has been placed in the Confederate section of the cemetery while Breckinridge’s statue was placed in the Breckinridge family burial area in section G. Charles Bertram cbertram@herald-leader.com

Mayor Jim Gray called for their relocation in August, as conflict flared between white nationalists and counter-protesters in Charlottesville, Va., leaving three people dead and others injured.

Dozens of people came before the Lexington council to plead that the statues be removed, and the council voted unanimously to do so.

"We must be adults today," Mayor Jim Gray said as the Urban County Council voted to relocate two Confederate statues from the old courthouse downtown. Watch highlights from the council meeting and vote.

The Lexington Cemetery, on Leestown Road, agreed to take them, and donations paid for the relocation.

Duncan Machinery provided the equipment, manpower, storage and transportation for the move. Prometheus Foundry shared expertise at no charge.

The city said earlier this year that smaller bases were being cut for the statues at the cemetery’s request. The city also agreed to provide security cameras mounted on poles to monitor the statues. Those preparations contributed to the delay in moving the statues to their new home.

The bases, additional security and legal fees were payed for with about $106,000 in private donations.

Mayor Jim Gray announces that the Lexington Cemetery has granted preliminary approval to accepting two Confederate statues currently located downtown.

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