WHAT: The War Horse at the Virginia Historical Society on The Boulevard, Richmond, Va.
LOCATION: 428 North Boulevard, Museum District.
ARTIST: Tessa Pullan.
DEDICATION: September 17, 1997.
DESCRIPTION: The bronze horse sculpture is mounted on a six-foot base and surrounded by a high iron fence. The statue stands in front of the Virginia Historical Society on The Boulevard. The War Horse is a memorial to the Civil War horse, designed by Tessa Pullan of Rutland, England, and given to the historical society by Paul Mellon.
An inscription on the granite reads:
In memory of the one and one half million horses and mules of the Confederate and Union armies who were killed, were wounded or died from disease in the Civil War.
* * *
The first thing most people notice with the statue is the ribs. The horse is intentionally gaunt and overly thin, indicating how difficult it must have been for the dedicated domesticated animals during the Civil War. The best time to see the statue may be at night, as a floodlight focused on The War Horse helps cast a huge shadow on the granite walls of the VHS. Take a walk or drive by on The Boulevard some evening to see for yourself.
WHAT: Statue of President Abraham Lincoln in Richmond, Virginia.
LOCATION: Richmond National Battlefield Park Visitor Center at Tredegar Iron Works.
ARTIST: David Frech.
DEDICATION: April 3, 2003.
DESCRIPTION: The life-size bronze statue depicts Lincoln and his 12-year-old son, Tad, sitting on a bench during their historic visit to Richmond on April 4 and 5 1865 to tour the burned-out Confederate Capitol.
* * *
On his visit to Richmond, Lincoln visited the White House of the Confederacy and Capitol Square, but little of his visit was recorded. He apparently never visited burned-out Tredegar Iron Works, but his statue is very worthwhile visit. There is a marker at the site with the following description:
Lincoln lived long enough to articulate his post-war vision. In his concise and powerful second inaugural address on March 4, 1865, the president delivered this now-famous passage: “With malice toward none; with charity for all; with firmness in the right…let us strive to finish the work we are in; to bind up the nation’s wounds…to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace among ourselves, and with all nations.”
Lincoln had only three conditions for the Confederacy: complete end to the war; abolition of slavery; and restoration of the national authority, and his words were “Let ’em up easy.”
Major Lewis Ginter is one of the most important figures in the development of Richmond and left a large imprint on our city. I’ve written about his many accomplishments and lasting achievements, but I want to go a step further.
We should erect a statue of Ginter in Richmond. With statues to honor so many great figures in Richmond’s history, why is there no statue to the man I consider the “Greatest Richmonder of All Time?”
Joseph Bryan in Monroe Park
We have a statue of Joseph Stewart Bryan — a contemporary and good friend of Ginter’s — in Richmond’s Monroe Park, dedicated in 1911 [see more on the statue]. A list of Ginter’s accomplishments and philanthropy would be much longer than one for Bryan. But why nothing for Ginter?
There are indications that he may not have wanted to be honored. The famed Jefferson Hotel opened in 1895 and has been a perennial five-star historic gem ever since [Read more]. In the book Richmond: The Story of a City by Virginius Dabney:
Leading citizens sought to place a plaque in the hotel, celebrating the all-important contributions of Major Ginter in bringing the Jefferson into existence, but the modest man refused to allow it.
Ginter was known to be very private. He never married and left his inheritance to his niece, Grace Arents, and many other charitable organizations. There are few photos of him available and he likely wanted it that way. I’ve read in various books that he may have instructed someone to destroy most of his financial and personal records.
Despite his wishes for privacy, I think the city should celebrate him with a statue. That’s what we do in Richmond. Ignoring cost for a moment, I have three locations to nominate.
Intersection of Laburnum Avenue, Brook Road and Fauquier Avenue (at center)
Intersection of Laburnum Avenue and Brook Road [map]
This is perhaps the most appropriate spot, as Ginter in the mid-1880s bought controlling interest in much of then-named Brook Turnpike and bought 100s of acres on either side of the road in preparation for his visionary Northside development that evolved into today’s Ginter Park, Sherwood Park and Bellevue.
He eventually ran streetcars along Brook Road as well, turning at this intersection on to Fauquier Avenue toward his progressive recreational development Lakeside Park in the 1890s — now known as Jefferson-Lakeside Country Club.
General A.P. Hill statue at Laburnum & Hermitage
Another good reason to place his statue there is the parallel with the General A.P. Hill statue at Laburnum Avenue and Hermitage Road. Ginter served under Hill in the Civil War, according to Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden: 25 Years and Growing by Frank L. Robinson and Lynn Kirk:
Declining a promotion to brigadier, Ginter accepted the rank of major under General A.P. Hill, and for the remainder of his life he was addressed as Major Ginter … [Ginter] donated land and was instrumental in the construction of the monument.
The problem a statue at this unique five-way intersection is that it is too busy and there are too many cars needing to take left turns. Getting traffic around even a small circle would be difficult. The intersection could be widened, but it is not logical to spend the amount of money for the potential of creating a dangerous intersection.
Intersection of Brookland Parkway, Loxley Road and Rennie Avenue
Intersection of Brookland Parkway, Loxley Road and Rennie Avenue [map]
This might be my favorite, just because it seems like the easiest and safest place to establish a lasting monument to Ginter without interrupting current traffic patterns.
This intersection is part of Sherwood Park and is already in the shape of two triangles. There is plenty of room to establish two small triangle-shaped landscaped gardens within the intersection, perhaps with a statue to Ginter in one of them. No matter what, this intersection needs a more appropriate and distinguished layout.
Intersection of Hermitage Road and Bellevue & Pope avenues
Intersection of Hermitage Road and Bellevue & Pope avenues [map]
This seems like the least likely but is appropriate because of the train that Ginter ran through this area toward the quarries in the area that became Bryan Park and Lakeside.
Also, it would be a shame to take attention away from the arch at Pope Avenue. Hermitage Avenue itself is a historic district and would likely have some say in any adjustments to the roadway at this five-way intersection.
* * *
Cost? Let’s use Richmond’s statue honoring tennis champion and Richmond native Arthur Ashe as a comparison.
Ashe is honored with a 12 foot tall bronze statue at Monument Avenue and Roseneath Road that stands on a 87,000 pound granite block and rises 28 feet above the street. It was created by artist Paul Di Pasquale and was dedicated in July 1996 with a cost of nearly $450,000 (according to figures from the Richmond Times-Dispatch).
Let’s assume that a more modest statue to Ginter would cost $500,000, considering inflation, but not including the cost to adjust traffic patterns at the selected intersection. Fund-raising would not be easy — a group or a philanthropist would have to back the long-overdue statue.
Ginter died October 1, 1897. With all of his success and philanthropy — and considering the propensity to honor great Richmonders with statues — there must have been movement at that time to honor Ginter that fell short. His friend Bryan was honored in 1911 after his death in 1908, and maybe by then people had begun to forget his accomplishments? Major Lewis Ginter’s name should have been the 10th on the list.
WHAT: Confederate President Jefferson Davis on Monument Avenue in Richmond, Virginia.
WHERE: Monument and Davis avenues, in the center of the intersection.
ARTIST: Edward V. Valentine.
DEDICATION: June 3, 1907.
DESCRIPTION: A 7 1/2 foot high standing figure of bronze atop a 12 foot granite pedestal. This grouping stands in front of a 67 foot high column on top of which is another Valentine sculpted allegorical figure of the South “Vindicatrix.” The column stands in front center of a semi-circle classical colonnade of 13 Doric columns. William C. Noland of Richmond designed the entire monument.
LOCATION: Hollywood Cemetery in Richmond’s Oregon Hill neighborhood.
ARTIST: Design originated from engineer Charles Henry Dimmock.
DEDICATION: November 8, 1869. (Cornerstone was laid Dec. 3, 1868)
DESCRIPTION: The famed 90-foot pyramid is made with large blocks of James River granite. The blocks were stacked without bonding. Built overlooking the cemetery’s Soldiers’ Section. It is a monument to the 18,000 Confederate enlisted men buried in the cemetery.
* * *
The pyramid took a year to build and there were many accidents during construction. Thomas Stanley, a Lynchburg convict working with the construction crew, made the perilous climb to the top to lower the capstone into place.
The plaque reads: “A memorial to the Confederate women of Virginia, 1861-1865. The legislature of Virginia of 1914, has at the solicitation of Ladies Hollywood Memorial Association and United Daughters of Confederacy of Virginia placed in perpetual care this section where lie buried eighteen thousand confederate soldiers.
A chapter (Oct. 1996) in Harry Kollatz Jr.’s book, True Richmond Stories, retold the tale of the capstone’s placement, and how prisoner Thomas Stanley — assumed to have come from the nearby state penitentiary on Gamble’s Hill — volunteered to perform the dangerous honor:
And thus it was that a horse thief came to be on the work gang for Dimmock’s pyramid. The knots in the hoisting ropes were tied too close to the top and the stone wouldn’t go past them. Stanley poured water on the ropes, causing them to shrink the needed inches. Then, as a breathless crowd watched, the prisoner put himself between the mass of hanging rock and the pyramid and righted the stone to its seat.
Everyone that has heard of this legend assumes that Stanley went free after this accomplishment. Kollatz’s story cleared that up, somewhat:
In the release box of his prison schedule, the simple penciled notation reads “transferred.” There is no mention of when or where. A romantic notion suggests itself: the warden opened a gate and told Stanley to go and never come back…
Seeing this monument is an essential to anyone that visits Richmond. The first time I saw the pyramid, I was shocked by its size and towering presence in the scenic cemetery. It can be seen from many points near Oregon Hill. It is easy to imagine the stones being brought in from either the Kanawha Canal — located just below Hollywood — or Belle Isle — just a bit further below the canal and across the James River.
WHAT: Statue honoring J.E.B. Stuart on Monument Avenue in Richmond, Virginia.
WHERE: Monument and Lombardy avenues in the Fan District, in the center of the intersection.
ARTIST: Fred Moynihan.
DEDICATION: May 30, 1907.
DESCRIPTION: A 15-foot-tall equestrian bronze statue mounted on a 7 1/2 half foot granite pedestal. The statue faces north and is the most animated of the Monument Avenue statues. The horse’s right foot is raised and Stuart is portrayed turned in the saddle to face east. It was unveiled by Virginia Stuart Waller, the general’s granddaughter.
* * *
Confederate General James Ewell Brown “J.E.B.” Stuart was major general — chief of cavalry — in the Army of Northern Virginia, Confederate States of America.
While he cultivated a cavalier image, his serious work made him the eyes and ears of Robert E. Lee’s army and inspired Southern morale.
He was mortally wounded at the Battle of Yellow Tavern in 1864 and died in Richmond just a few blocks away from where his monument is located at the intersection with Lombardy Street.
* * *
I’ve often heard the complaint from visitors and tourists what a shame it is that Stuart’s statue is facing the direction it is facing. Monument Avenue officially begins at this intersection. As the traffic heads east, the street becomes into Franklin Street and is one-way. That makes it tougher to drive by the monument and get a good look at Stuart, especially for tour buses. Traffic through the intersection also makes it tough to safely cross the street to get a closer look at the statue.
No matter. I’ve always enjoyed the confines in Stuart Circle. The intersection is the most busy, architecturally speaking. The statue came first, but then came First English Lutheran Church (1911), St. John’s United Church of Christ (1928), Grace Covenant Presbyterian (1920-23) — and on opposite corners, the old Stuart Circle Hospital (now apartments) and the attractive high-rise Stuart Court Apartments.
WHAT: Confederate General Ambrose Powell Hill in Richmond, Virginia.
LOCATION: Laburnum Avenue and Hermitage Road in the center of the intersection.
ARTIST: William Ludwell Sheppard.
DEDICATION: May 30, 1892.
DESCRIPTION: A 9 1/2 foot high standing likeness of General Hill which is mounted on a 24 1/2 foot high pedestal which contains the remains of the General. The monument is on land donated by Major Lewis Ginter and was erected by the efforts of Pegram’s Battalion. Caspar Burberl of New York enlarged in bronze Sheppard’s model.
* * *
The tale of how Hill came to rest in the middle of Laburnum Avenue is a good one, best told by Gary Robertson in the Richmond Times-Dispatch in April, 2005, 140 years after the general’s death:
Confederate Lt. Gen. A.P. Hill was buried standing up. It took three tries before he reached his final resting place.
And if all that wasn’t odd enough, the search to find his first grave — and perhaps correct the historical record — has been led by a group of Civil War devotees whose primary focus is illuminating not the life of Hill, but of another Confederate general, George E. Pickett.
A member of the Pickett Society noted that the nonprofit society was formed in 1999 to honor Pickett but also to correct “many subjective and historically incorrect items and pretensions.”
Hill was shot to death near Petersburg on April 2, 1865, as his battle lines were collapsing during the last days of the war. Then the race was on to bury him appropriately — and before nature took its course and ravaged his body even further.
Research by the Pickett Society indicates that the first burial came not where some Civil War researchers believe it was, at Bellgrade Plantation, near Huguenot and Robious roads in Chesterfield County.
Pickett Society records at the Virginia Historical Society and other research from local historians and authors, instead indicate that Hill was buried in an area south of the James River near Bosher Dam, in what is now the city of Richmond.
Hill lay in that grave for two years before he was unearthed and his remains transferred in the autumn of 1867 to Hollywood Cemetery in Richmond, which was where some of his former soldiers wanted him.
In 1891, the remains were moved again and buried under a statue erected in Hill’s honor at the current intersection of Laburnum Avenue and Hermitage Road.