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Let's Talk Albemarle: Court Square

Let's Talk Albemarle: Court Square

This project seeks to provide the Albemarle County Board of Supervisors with community feedback on the Court Square public space, markers, and memorials, and how it could be intentionally programmed public space. 

Albemarle County's Court Square is a public space, a public good intended to be accessible and available to any member of our community. The elements within a public space articulate how the space should be used and the markers and monuments within Court Square tell a story about who we are and what we, as a community, value.

Today, the Court Square property is home to several markers and monuments, including tributes to American Presidents and Confederate soldiers, commemoration of exploration, a heroic ride, and memorialization of a local lynching. Each of these markers were placed under specific circumstances, but no cohesive vision or master plan for this public space has been articulated. The legislation granting local authority over monuments and memorials for war veterans by the General Assembly earlier this year presents an opportunity for the Albemarle County Board of Supervisors to establish a vision for the space.

To do this in a way that represents our community's values, we need you to get involved.

The story that a building tells through its design may be as important to the community it serves as its function. By shaping our thoughts about ourselves and our institutions, it will directly affect our efforts to work productively together. 

- Justice Stephen G. Breyer (United States Supreme Court, 1994-present)

Introduction

Over the past several decades, Court Square - Circuit Courthouse Grounds, has become host to memorials and historic objects in Albemarle’s history. This important public space has not been curated to craft a narrative and to do so, we need your help. As a community, we need to have conversations about what's important to us, what do we want this space to say about us, what do we want to project today and moving forward, and how do we do that at Court Square.

We started this project in-person in February 2020. The engagement process was designed to be collaborative and interactive. Due to the restrictions in place to reducee the transmission of COVID-19, the process was paused in mid-March. We are pleased to launch this digital project hub to continue the Court Square Community Conversations.

Please join us for a series of educational tours, listening sessions, and community panels from June through July to tour this space, develop a shared understanding of its history, and explore together what the future could hold.

Read on to view all the opportunities to participate.

Panel Discussions Q&A

Expanding the Narrative at Highland

Dr. Sara Bon-Harper, Executive Director of James Monroe’s Highland and Ms. Jennifer Stacy, member of Highland’s Descendant Advisory Panel, will lead a discussion on their work to represent a multivocal history, one in which many voices combine to tell one set of stories. This event will be moderated by Dr. Louis Nelson, Vice Provost for Academic Outreach and Professor, Architectural History. 

Court Square as a Public Space

A conversation about the meaning and importance of Court Square as a public space, with Elgin Cleckley, Assistant Professor of Architecture, Education, and Health at UVA, Justin Reid, Director of Community Initiatives, Virginia Humanities, Dr. Kirt Von Daacke, Assistant Dean, Associate Professor of History UVA, and Betsy Baten,  Albemarle County Historic Preservation Committee. This event will be moderated by Dr. Andrea Douglas, Executive Director Jefferson School African American Heritage Center.

Discussion of the cultural landscape of Court Square and the historic significance and design of its current markers and monuments.

Community Conversations

July 8th Conversation 

July 8, 2020 at 6 pm
A guided conversation with community members sharing their stories about memorialization, public space, and Court Square. Attendees will learn from and share with others to enhance our collective understanding. 

July 24th Conversation

July 24, 2020 at 12 pm
A guided conversation with community members sharing their stories about memorialization, public space, and Court Square. Attendees will learn from and share with others to enhance our collective understanding.

Questionnaire

Share Your Experience

We have created this questionnaire to provide a direct opportunity for you to share your thoughts, concerns, and vision around the Court Square property and the way we interpret that as public space.The...

Virtual Tour

Court Square Virtual Tour

A virtual tour of the Court Square public space and an opportunity to share your reflections from the tour. 

Project Update 

7/30/20
All commenting opportunities on this platform are now closed. All public comments remain visible and you may click through to read them. 

The comments have been submitted to the Board of Supervisors for review.

If you would like to participate in the upcoming Public Hearing on August 6th at 6 pm, please read the Participation Guide for the August 6th Public Hearing.

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Let's Talk Albemarle: Court Square Launch

After receiving direction from the Board of Supervisors we launched this project to learn from county residents about their thoughts regarding the Court Square public space, markers, and memorials.

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July 1, 2020 Senate Bill 183 and House Bill 1537 Take Effect

These bills give localities the ability to remove, relocate, contextualize, or cover the monuments or war memorials in their communities. The Albemarle County Board of Supervisors directed staff to advertise a public hearing on this topic. 

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August 6, 2020 at 6 pm - Public Hearing

The Board of Supervisors will hold a public hearing to receive public comment on its intent to remove, relocate, contextualize, or cover the following monuments or memorials for the veterans of a war located on the County-owned portion of Court Square, the site of the Albemarle County Circuit Court at 501 East Jefferson Street, Charlottesville: (1) the statue known as “At the Ready” or “At Ready”; (2) cannons; and (3) stacked cannonballs. 

Following the public hearing, the Board can take an action to remove, relocate, contextualize, or cover a monument or memorial. If the Board acts to remove, relocate, contextualize, or cover a monument or memorial, the Board must offer the monument or memorial for relocation and placement to any museum, historical society, government, or military battlefield, for a period of 30 days.

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September 6, 2020

If the Board acts to relocate, contextualize, or cover a monument or memorial, it may do so on or after September 6th. 

On September 8th, the Board took action to accept the offer from the Shenandoah Valley Battlefield Foundation for At Ready, the cannons, cannonballs, and base.

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September 12, 2020 - Monument Removal

On Saturday, September 12, the At Ready statue and the associated memorials of the cannons, cannonballs, and stone base, will be removed from Court Square. The removal will be viewable via a livestream available on Albemarle County’s FacebookTwitter, and YouTube channels, beginning at 6:30 am that day.