From June 1936 until its removal in mid-September last year, Alexander Phimister Proctor’s statue Robert E. Lee and Young Soldier overlooked Oak Lawn. Now it bides its time at Hensley Field in Grand Prairie. And soon it could find itself in Fort Worth — specifically, the Texas Civil War Museum.
That’s just one of the suggestions found in materials prepared for Wednesday’s meeting of the Dallas City Council, which will discuss what to do with the city-owned monuments, artwork and street names honoring soldiers who fought for the Confederacy.
The council put the discussion on hold in November after several contentious public meetings, hundreds of phone calls, numerous letters and even a few threats to council members.
The lull allowed the city staff time to analyze the 13 proposals offered last summer by the mayor’s Confederate monuments task force.
The task force proposed putting the Lee statue and the Confederate War Memorial, planted outside the downtown convention center, in a museum. But until Friday night the name of that museum wasn’t made public.
Joey Zapata, the assistant city manager overseeing the review, said late Friday that the Civil War museum on Jim Wright Freeway in Fort Worth is open to accepting the statue.
"We wouldn’t be putting them in the briefing if they weren’t," he said. "But the discussions are very preliminary, of course."
According to documents posted on the city’s website late Friday, it will cost about $75,000 to move the statue and place it on a new foundation. It will cost $125,000 to remove the existing base and stairs at Oak Lawn Park, the green space formerly known as Lee Park.
Zapata and Jennifer Scripps, director of the Office of Cultural Affairs, said there’s a chance the Fort Worth museum or some private donors might help offset the costs of the statue’s relocation.
"But those are part of larger negotiations if we get the direction from council to pursue it," Scripps said.
The documents posted Friday night show that city staffers — from various departmens including Sustainable Development, Park and Recreation and, most of all, the Office of Cultural Affairs —don’t always agree with the task force’s recommendations.
For instance, the task force wanted the Confederate War Memorial, dedicated in 1896, to join the Lee statue in a museum. But Scripps and Zapata said Friday that it will be difficult, if not impossible, to move the towering collection out of Pioneer Park Cemetery next to Dallas City Hall without damaging or destroying the works. It would also cost about $500,000.
The Robert E. Lee statue received a police escort down Singleton Boulevard after its removal from the former Lee Park in September.
The staff recommends leaving it in the cemetery and surrounding it with signs that put the statue in context. That would cost about $25,000.
"It’s incredibly complicated with all those graves around there to even start to think about moving it," Scripps said.
The task force also wanted to change the names of streets that honor Confederate leaders: Lee Parkway, Cabell Road, Gano Street, Stonewall Street and Beauregard Drive. But city officials are recommending renaming only Lee Parkway, which is adjacent to the park where its namesake statue stood until last fall.
"Gano and Cabell really were early Dallas residents that made other positive contributions to Dallas," Scripps said, referring to rancher, doctor and minister Richard Montgomery Gano and Mayor William L. Cabell. "I am not glossing over their Confederacy links, but Lee is clearly in honor of a Civil War general without other ties to Dallas."
There is no guarantee Lee Parkway will get a new name. Several residents along that stretch of Oak Lawn went to City Hall last year to protest the statue’s removal and any proposed name change.
Zapata said late Friday that "because there’s already been opposition expressed, we’ll probably need a super-majority of the council to make any change."
But city staffers embraced most of the task force’s proposals, including creating a Fair Park Art Working Group and hiring a local consultant to create signs that would "add full historical context to Fair Park art."
The staff also agreed with commemorating the Hall of Negro Life, which was built for the Texas Centennial Exposition in 1936 and then destroyed.
That cost could be anywhere between $50,000 and $200,000, according to the briefing, depending on how deep the council is willing to dig into its budget.
Among the other tangible recommendations, the task force and the staff would like to see a Texas historical marker at Akard and Main streets — where Allen Brooks was lynched from the Elks’ Arch on March 3, 1910.
But as Zapata and Scripps note, theirs are merely recommendations — like the task force’s. It will be up to the council to tell the staff how to proceed.
"I found the process incredibly interesting and intellectually engaging," Scripps said. "It hasn’t been easy, but it’s been a good, solid body of work. It’s something we wanted to do right."