State Makes Decision to Keep Confederate Soldier Monument in Centennial Park

Parthenon Centennial Park
The Parthenon at Centennial Park/\'photo by Jim Wood

A final vote was made by the Tennessee Historical Commission to keep a Confederate monument in one of Nashville’s most popular parks on February 17, 2023.

The Confederate Private Monument is a bronze sculpture of a private Confederate soldier that was unveiled in Centennial Park in 1909.

During last week’s Tennessee Historical Commission meeting, the board made a decision for the monument to remain in the park after it had been the center of a controversial debate in Nashville over the past years. In the midst of the ongoing controversy, the monument was vandalized in 2019.

The commission voted against the Metro Board of Parks and Recreation’s request for the monument’s removal, adding that historic memorials shouldn’t be moved due to the Heritage Protection Act.

“This does constitute as a memorial so it falls under our jurisdiction,” Commissioner Jeremy Harrell said. “They [Metro Board of Parks and Recreation] failed to meet the burden of proof that there’s a compelling public interest based on a single act of vandalism.”

The Commissioners also stated that the Metro Board of Parks and Recreation failed to provide a proposed relocation if the monument remained publicly accessible after its removal from the park.

While some believe the Confederate Private Monument in Centennial Park represents a racist past, most of the Historical Commission believed that both sides of the Civil War need to be represented.

“Men from the ages 17 to 50 were drafted into the service and their service often had nothing to do with what they felt about the issues that their leaders of their country used to drag them into the war,” Commissioner Ann Toplovich said. “The ideology of their leaders is always not a correct application.”

The Tennessee Historical Commission voted unanimously to deny the request of Metro Board of Parks and Recreation.

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