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Orange museum wants 'Confederate' taken off its facade

Posted June 10, 2015

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— The director of the Orange County Historical Museum has asked Hillsborough officials to remove the words "Confederate Memorial" from the museum's building.

The town-owned building, at 201 N. Churton St., dates to 1934 and was originally a whites-only Confederate memorial library, and the history museum moved into the building in 1982.

Museum Executive Director Candace Midgett said she worries that, even though a sign out front provides the museum's name, people might believe the building is a Confederate history museum rather than one that covers Orange County's complete history.

"It's a confusing name. We're not a Confederate memorial," Midgett said Wednesday. "The name itself is a barrier for people in the community in that it evokes post-Reconstruction history and the era of Jim Crow laws here in the South, and we want to be more inclusive than that."

The words "Public Library" were previously taken off the building facade, and she said that's a precedent to allow the museum to remove the rest of the lettering.

"We are not trying to erase that part of our history. We are just trying to contextualize so it makes more sense," she said.

The Hillsborough Board of Commissioners delayed action on Midgett's request until June 22.

Commissioner Jenn Weaver said town officials are considering alternatives, such as displaying the words inside the building or adding the word "former" to the facade.

"I don't think leaving the sign and the building as it is is the best thing for our community," Weaver said. "There's various choices, and I really think we need to talk more as a community about what the correct thing is."

Representatives of the North Carolina Sons of Confederate Veterans oppose the effort.

9 Comments

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  • Sam Ashworth Jun 12, 2015
    user avatar

    It's kind on funny, these da n yankees come to Hillsborough saying it's a quaint old town, and then want to make it like it was from where they came. I bet this director is a da n yankee or of the Chapel Hill kind.

  • Chris Weaver Jun 12, 2015
    user avatar

    Perhaps one day the barrier to Republicans erected and maintained (100%) since the rise of Fredric Nash Strudwick Orange County KKK leader (home across and up the street) for the past 130 years could come down.

  • Kenneth Anderson Jun 11, 2015
    user avatar

    The Confederate Memorial Library building was a gift to the Town of Hillsborough from the United Daughters of the Confederacy in 1934, during the Great Depression. They paid for the building instead of building a monument because it would be of greater service to the Depression ravaged community. The building and Library honored the many Orange County men who fought and died for the Confederacy. The mere consideration of removing this memorial is highly disrespectful of the benefactors, the UDC, who built the Library and the citizens who helped make Orange County what it is today. Will donors to the public trust today have faith that at some point in the future, their generous gifts will be ignored and the memory erased if the Town Council ultimately decides to remove "Confederate Memorial" from the facade?

  • Mike C Jun 11, 2015
    user avatar

    It's high time we went from being 'politically correct' to being 'politically honest' and quit worrying about 'offending' someone today for something that was done by people we, today, have/had no control over.

    If this type of thing offends people, then why aren't people getting offended by Obama trying to imitate what Hitler did during his reign of terror?

  • Norman Lewis Jun 11, 2015
    user avatar

    The implication is of course all Southern people were racist or slave owners at the time and any artifacts or buildings from that time are shameful. Truth is, most people were not either. Confederate soldiers were by the large part, men who believed in states rights and were responding to their states call for help. The southern soldier had honorable intentions and goals even if we today may fault some of their objectives and their sacrifices of family and home deserve as much honor as the Northern soldiers who sacrificed just as much. ,

  • Joseph Shepard Jun 10, 2015
    user avatar

    Mien Gott--is there no end to this "politically correct" bull S? Why must the Southern history and culture be so demeaned and minimized simply to appease a small but vocal group of racists who still believe that their current status and economic conditions are the immediate and direct result of circumstances that existed over 200 years ago. We it me, I'd tell them all to go straight to hell. I am a Southerner, and proud of it...I do not and will not permit this kind of garbage to diminish my history.

  • Scott Mace Jun 10, 2015
    user avatar

    Another option, is to leave it as is, continue to have the regular sign by the front door (that's at eye level and not up high behind tree limbs like the facade).... and grow up.

    Honestly, to be a history museum I find it ironic they're trying to cover up the history of the very building they're in.

  • Joseph Smith Jun 10, 2015
    user avatar

    close it.

  • Doug Smallen Jun 10, 2015
    user avatar

    ""We are not trying to erase that part of our history. We are just trying to contextualize so it makes more sense," she said.

    Yes you are!