For the second consecutive quarterly meeting, the Capitol Building Committee stopped Wednesday on the issue of the Stonewall Jackson statue and bust on the Capitol grounds.
The status of the statue and bust was not on the committee’s agenda for a second consecutive meeting since the committee held a public hearing on the statuary in December, when seven of eight speakers called for withdrawing the statue in the southeast corner of the Capitol complex. and remove the bust from the Capitol rotunda.
Two days before this public hearing, the Virginia Military Institute withdrew from its park the duplicate statue of Stonewall Jackson on the Capitol. Last weekend, the city of Charlottesville, Virginia removed three Confederate statues from city squares, including a statue of Stonewall Jackson.
Calls to remove Jackson’s statue from the Capitol go back a decade, but intensified last summer amid a wave of Confederate memorial removals across the South during protests against the death of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis Police Department in May 2020.
To date, neither the legislature nor Governor Jim Justice has responded to calls to remove the statue and bust, which critics say are symbols of white supremacy.
In the 2021 ordinary session, the House of Delegates passed by 70 votes to 28 a bill that would have criminalized removing or moving Confederate statuary without state permission. The bill died in the Senate Judiciary Committee.
No members of the public attended Wednesday’s committee meeting, which was moved at the last minute from its intended location in the state museum’s media room to a conference room on the second floor of the cultural center , to allow certain committee members to participate by teleconference.
Commissioners took up an agenda item, authorizing the state treasurer’s office to install laminate flooring in an office suite that was flooded three times, including on March 26, when a pipe of an upper floor of the east wing has burst.
Steve Bohman, chief of staff to state treasurer Riley Moore, told commissioners the flooding had further damaged the carpet in the suite, which houses the communications division of the treasurer’s office, as well as the offices of two attorneys from the staff. He said the carpet was ripped off, revealing asbestos tiles underneath.
Bohman said plans are to replace the carpet with laminate flooring that looks like white oak wood, to match the wooden door frames in the offices.
In a letter to the commissioners, Susan Pierce, the state’s assistant historic preservation officer, said that while Capitol architect Cass Gilbert has provided guidance regarding the types of flooring to be used in the Supreme Court , the foyers of the Chambers of the House and the Senate and the Office of the Governor, no documents indicating that he specified the types of flooring to be used in the secondary offices of the Capitol.
She said the proposed flooring will not adversely affect the historic character of the building.