By a three-to-two vote after a long and varied discussion from citizens, the Alachua County Commission voted to offer the Confederate Soldier statue, which has been at the corner of Main St. and University Avenue since 1904, to the Matheson Historical Museum for placement on their grounds.
It was felt that the message of the statue, extolling the cause of the South which most historians agree was about perpetuation of the system of slavery, was not appropriate for land on which also had the Alachua County Administration Building, and that the museum was a more appropriate place. Keeping with the fact the statue was put up with private funds, it was decreed that private funds would also fund its move to the Matheson.
All this is contingent on the Board of the Matheson agreeing to the placement of the statue there, which will be decided at the end of October. Starting with a $250 check from Commissioner Hutchinson, there are a number of donations already coming to the Matheson for what will likely be the $10,000 to $20,000 expense. This money will be held in an account until enough is raised, and, if for some reason the move does not happen, it will either be refunded or used for other museum projects at the discretion of the individual donors wishes.
Great credit is due to the citizen activists, particularly Jesse Arost and Faye Williams, who brought this issue to light, and it must be said, this was an educational community exercise, and it is indisputable that “Old Joe” got more attention in the last few months than he had in the last hundred years.