Removing plaques and building names with ties to the Confederacy begins at VCU

Facilities Management workers started removing items on Wednesday based on resolutions passed by the VCU Board of Visitors in September.

A V C U worker removes letters from the Jefferson Davis Memorial Chapel in the West Hospital.
Letters are removed at the Jefferson Davis Memorial Chapel in the West Hospital. The chapel is being de-commemorated and closed. (Tom Kojcsich, University Marketing)

This week, Virginia Commonwealth University began the process of removing selected plaques, lettered signs and other items as it de-commemorates buildings and monuments on campus that honor historical figures with ties to the Confederacy.  

VCU Facilities Management workers started removing items on Wednesday based on resolutions passed by the VCU Board of Visitors in September. The resolutions include the de-commemoration of McGuire Hall, Baruch Auditorium, Ginter House, the Jefferson Davis Memorial Chapel, the Tompkins-McCaw Library and the Wood Memorial Building — all spaces with namesakes who were members of the Confederacy. The resolutions also called for continued work with the city of Richmond to remove the Fitzhugh Lee monument, the Joseph Bryan statue and the W.C. Wickham monument in Monroe Park and the Howitzer statue near Park and Harrison streets. Each of the honorees had ties to the Confederacy. (The Monroe Park monuments and the Howitzer statue were removed this summer.)

Among the items removed this week were plaques honoring Hunter Holmes McGuire, M.D., Alexander Stephens and Simon Baruch, M.D. (all former Confederates); a bust of McGuire; plaques and signs at the Jefferson Davis Memorial Chapel in the West Hospital; and signs on doors at McGuire Hall. 

Workers remove a plaque on the Egyptian Building on the MCV Campus commemorating MCV's role in the Civil War. (Tom Kojcsich, University Marketing)
Workers remove a plaque on the Egyptian Building on the MCV Campus commemorating MCV's role in the Civil War. (Tom Kojcsich, University Marketing)
Plaques are removed from the Jefferson Davis Memorial Chapel in the West Hospital. (Tom Kojcsich, University Marketing)
Plaques are removed from the Jefferson Davis Memorial Chapel in the West Hospital. (Tom Kojcsich, University Marketing)
VCU facilities management workers remove a plaque honoring Alexander Stephens, former vice president of the Confederacy, from McGuire Hall on the MCV Campus. (Tom Kojcsich, University Marketing)
VCU facilities management workers remove a plaque honoring Alexander Stephens, former vice president of the Confederacy, from McGuire Hall on the MCV Campus. (Tom Kojcsich, University Marketing)

VCU is documenting the removal process. In some cases, artifacts will be returned to the original donors or transported to historical organizations. VCU received the relevant approvals from Virginia’s Art and Architectural Review Board on disposition of the items. 

Updates on the status of commemorations and removals will be shared by the Division for Inclusive Excellence at https://inclusive.vcu.edu/public-comment/.

In August 2017, VCU President Michael Rao, Ph.D., charged a work group to conduct an extensive audit of symbols of the Confederacy, racism, slavery, white supremacy and other items of an exclusionary nature on VCU’s campuses following the white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia. The group’s efforts led to the formation of the Committee on Commemorations and Memorials to make recommendations to approve memorials, commemorations and de-commemorations to the president.

On July 7, the committee voted on 18 recommendations and solicited public feedback. The committee received more than 3,000 comments on its recommendations. The recommendations and comments were shared with Rao and then sent to the Board of Visitors for final approval.

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