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Wednesday, July 06, 2022

A controversial Confederate statue in downtown Gainesville may be on its way to a local museum — again.

In a press release Wednesday, the Matheson Museum said it may reconsider accepting the statue it previously rejected or will prepare a counter-proposal.

In September, the County Commission voted 3-2 to relocate the statue — named "Old Joe" — to the museum. The Matheson never agreed to accept the statue, however, and last month decided against accepting it. Mainly financial and legal concerns were cited in the press release.

During a County Commission meeting Tuesday, County Commissioners asked the museum to reconsider the offer, according to the press release.

"I think that the location of the statue is actually part of the historical significance of the statue," said Commissioner Ken Cornell, who supports the statue staying at its current location. "It’s located a block away from the Battle of Gainesville."

"It’s my preference to not move it," he added. "I think it’s an opportunity for us to create a space on the square that would provide an opportunity for us to add to the statue some historical significance."

The release cited articles by the Ocala Star Banner on how Marion County Commissioners handled the relocation of a different Confederate statue in their county and created a public partnership to raise the funds needed to relocate the statue to the Ocala-Marion County Veterans Memorial Park.

The Museum recommended County Manager Lee Niblock follow a similar procedure with relocating the Confederate statue, or potentially use funds from the Tourism Development Council to build signs or companion statues either at the current site or at a new location.

Contact Hunter Williamson at hwilliamson@alligator.org and follow him on Twitter @hunterewilliam

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