Call To Action: Speak Up To Save Hemming Park Confederate Monument In Jacksonville
From: Save Southern Heritage – Florida
Date: Wed, Jan 18, 2017 at 6:59 AM
Subject: SSH FL Call to Action – Call & E-Mail to Save Jacksonville Hemming Park Cenotaph
Save Southern Heritage – Florida
CALL TO ACTION – SPEAK UP TO SAVE HEMMING PARK CONFEDERATE MONUMENT in Jacksonville
HK Edgerton in front of Hemming Park Monument during his Southern Cross Revival March – 2016 (Courtesy of Jenna Bernstein)
The Jacksonville City Council is considering a bill that would grant the Confederate Cenotaph in Hemming Park “Landmark Site Designation” status.
This is an important step to protecting this monument
Please call and/or email the commissioners and ask them to:
Vote FOR Landmark Site Designation for the Hemming Plaza Monument.
Printable list of City Council Members Here
All City Council Members At a Glance:
- District 1: Joyce Morgan – 904-630-1389
- District 2: Al Ferraro – 904-630-1392
- District 3: Aaron Bowman – 904-630-1386
- District 4: Lori Boyer – 904-630-1382
- District 6: Matt Schellenberg – 904-630-1386
- District 7: Reggie Gaffney – 904-630-1384
- District 8: Katrina Brown – 904-630-1385
- District 9: Garrett Dennis – 904-630-1395
- District 10: Reginald Brown – 904-630-1684
- District 11: Danny Becton – 904-630-1383
- District 12: Doyle Carter – 904-630-1380
- District 13: Bill Gulliford – 904-630-1397
- District 14: Jim Love – 904-630-1390
- Group 1: Anna Brosche – 904-630-1393
- Group 2: John Crescimbeni – 904-630-1381
- Group 3: Tommy Hazouri – 904-630-1396
- Group 4: Greg Anderson – 904-630-1398
- Group 5: Samuel Newby – 904-630-1387
- Mayor Lenny Curry – 904-630-1776
Dear Council Member,
I’m asking you to please vote FOR Landmark Site Designation for the Hemming Plaza Monument. It is historically significant for many reasons, including that it is the only surviving intact structure from the great fire of 1901 in Jacksonville.
It is a Florida Veterans monument and we must remember that how we treat yesterday’s veterans today signals to this generation how today’s veterans will be treated tomorrow.
Thank you for your consideration.
The monument was erected by a Jacksonville native and Confederate Veteran, Charles Hemming in 1898. It has withstood many changes in the city, including the great fire of 1901. Concerns arose about a possible threat to move it out of downtown when the “Friends of the Park” released a concept drawing of their plans for the park – with no monument. Efforts to establish protected status for the monument have been ongoing since early 2016 and we are hopeful that the City Council will soon have a bill on their agenda to pass that will provide protection to the monument
The town square, set aside by Jacksonville founder Isiah Hart, was renamed “Hemming Park”, and was deeded to the City of Jacksonville after his death. Long before that, it was a junction of the British “Kings Road” from New Smyrna Beach to St. Marys, GA, and “Alligator Road” which went to Lake City and on to Tallahassee.
It has served its use as a public square and gathering place since at least 1859. Many important events have taken place there. During the occupation of Jacksonville by Federal forces during the War Between the States, the Federal HQ was located “Near the bandstand in the city square”. It has been the site of speeches by Presidents, and a historic marker marks the site of a debate between two candidates for President: John F. Kennedy and Richard Nixon. Grover Cleveland, Theodore Roosevelt, Warren Harding, Lyndon Johnson and Barry Goldwater all appeared at the park. In the 1960’s it was the ‘epicenter of Jacksonville’s Civil Rights Movement” with Axe Handle Saturday making national news.
But the Veterans monument is special, for you see, a young Jacksonville boy, Charles Hemming, went away to war with his father. During the war he would become a POW at Rock Island Prison, but would eventually escape. After the War, Hemming would make his fortune and wish to ‘give back’ to his fellow Floridians in arms.
Hemming wanted to honor his fellow veterans and remember his friends that did not survive. Hemming selected Jacksonville as the site for his gift to the Citizens of Florida, and on June 16, 1898, at then called “St. James Park”, the monument was unveiled and dedicated in a grand ceremony. The parade through town included the US Army 7th Corps, Commanded by Major Gen. Fitzhugh Lee (nephew of Gen. RE Lee), as well as Lt. Algernon Sartoris, the grandson of Gen. U.S. Grant. Jacksonville was so pleased with the gift that it renamed the park, “Hemming Park” as a tribute.
The great fire of Jacksonville in 1901 leveled the City; the only structure remaining being the Veterans’ monument. In her memory of the fire as a ten year old, Linda Frost Sheddan, (1891 – 1976), stated, “The tall monument to the solders of the Confederacy stood gaunt
and alone among the ashes and debris, the soldier at its top retaining his dignity and still clasping his musket. Hemming Park, in which it stood, was a mass of shriveled, curled, and ruined shrubs and trees.”
Fast forward until 2016 when the City of Jacksonville, seeking to revive Downtown, contracted with the “Friends of the Park” to manage the Park. The “Friends”, though well intended, didn’t realize that turning the park into a bodega, with statues of chickens with their rumps in the sky created disrespect to the Cenotaph which represents to many, the memory of family members who did not return from the War, and the crushed Southern economy we are still seeking to restore, in many ways, today.
Thanks to the efforts of concerned citizens, including SSH FL Protection Chief, Seber Newsome, efforts have been made to restore the dignity of the Monument and to preserve and protect it from the massive “purge” movement underway since the summer of 2015.
Progress was made when, on June 22, 2016, the City of Jacksonville Planning and Development Department submitted an Application to the City Council to ask for Landmark Designation for the entire Park. This was based on a vote by the Jacksonville Historic Preservation Commission. The Jacksonville Historical Society supported the measure. Bill 2016-0559 was introduced on August 23, 2016 but was not acted on by the City Commission. We recently discovered some Commissioners felt it would prevent any work being done on the Park.
A slight reversal came yesterday. A decision was made by the “Hemming Park Special Committee” to submit a revised bill to the Council providing Landmark Site Designation only to the Veteran Monument and the DAR Coquina & Bronze Historic Marker designating the junction of the two historic roads.
Obviously, if they approve it, it will protect the Veterans Monument, in situ. Thank you for your support.
Please pass this information along to like-minded friends and family, and ask them to contact the Council also.
Together we can Save Southern Heritage…
PO Box 291053
Tampa, FL 33687