Robert E. Lee Monument (Richmond, Virginia)

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Robert E. Lee Monument
Monument Ave Robert E. Lee.jpg
Robert E. Lee Monument, June 2009
Robert E. Lee Monument (Richmond, Virginia) is located in Virginia
Robert E. Lee Monument (Richmond, Virginia)
Robert E. Lee Monument (Richmond, Virginia) is located in the US
Robert E. Lee Monument (Richmond, Virginia)
Location 1700 Monument Ave., jct. of Monument and Allen Aves., Richmond, Virginia
Coordinates 37°33′20″N 77°27′36″W / 37.55556°N 77.46000°W / 37.55556; -77.46000
Area less than one acre
Built 1890 (1890)
Architect Mercie, Merius-Jean-Antonin; Pujol, Paul
NRHP reference # 06001213[1]
VLR # 127-0181
Significant dates
Added to NRHP January 5, 2007
Designated VLR September 6, 2006[2]

The Robert E. Lee Monument was the first and is the largest of Monument Avenue's monuments in Richmond, Virginia. In 1876 the Lee Monument Association commissioned the adaption of a painting done by artist Adalbert Volck into a lithograph. The lithograph, depicting Robert E. Lee on his horse, was the basis for the bronze statue created by French sculptor Antonin Mercié. It was noted in the National Register of Historic Places that "the horse is not a representation of Lee’s famous mount Traveller. The sculptor did not find the size of the actual horse to be in keeping with the overall composition and therefore created an ideal mount with the necessary requirements."[3] The cornerstone was placed on October 27, 1887. The statue was cast in several pieces separately and then the assembled statue was displayed in Paris before it was shipped to Richmond, where it arrived by rail on May 4.[4] Newspaper accounts indicate that 10,000 people helped pull four wagons with the pieces of the monument. The completed statue was unveiled on May 29, 1890. The statue serves as a traffic circle at the intersection of Monument Avenue and Allen Avenue (named after Otway Allen, the developer who donated the land to the association). Lee stands 14 feet (4.3 m) high atop his horse and the entire statue is 60 feet (18 m) tall standing on a stone base.[5][6]

The site for the statue originally was offered in 1886. Over some opposition, the offer was accepted and later withdrawn when opponents complained that the $20,000 for the Lee Monument was inappropriate because the site was outside the city limit.[citation needed] Richmond City annexed the land in 1892, but bad times economically caused the Lee Monument to stand alone for several years in the middle of a tobacco field before development resumed in the early 1900s.[5]

The Lee Monument is a focal point for Richmond. (Most popular online maps depict the "Lee Circle" as the center of Richmond, although the Virginia Department of Transportation uses the state Capitol building as its center.) In 1992, the iron fence around the monument was removed, in part because drivers unfamiliar with traffic circles would run into the fence from time to time and force costly repairs. When the fences came down, the stone base became a popular sunbathing spot.[7] In December 2006, the state completed an extensive cleaning and repair of the monument.

It was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2007.[1] It is located in the Monument Avenue Historic District.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b National Park Service (2010-07-09). "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. 
  2. ^ "Virginia Landmarks Register". Virginia Department of Historic Resources. Retrieved 19 March 2013. 
  3. ^ "Robert E. Lee Monument, Richmond, VA" (PDF). January 5, 2007. p. 7–2. Retrieved October 21, 2017. 
  4. ^ DuPriest, James E., Jr. and Douglas O. Tice, Jr., Monument & Boulevard: Richmond;s Grand Avenues, A Richmond Discoveries Publication, Richmond, VA 1996 p, 6
  5. ^ a b Robert A. Carter and Jennifer W. Murdock (August 2006). "National Register of Historic Places Inventory/Nomination: Robert E. Lee Monument" (PDF). Virginia Department of Historic Resources.  and Accompanying four photos
  6. ^ Mercie, Marius Jean Antonin; Pujol, Paul; Netherwood, James (24 October 1890). "Robert E. Lee Monument" – via Library Catalog. 
  7. ^ DuPriest, James E., Jr. and Douglas O. Tice, Jr., Monument & Boulevard: Richmond;s Grand Avenues, A Richmond Discoveries Publication, Richmond, VA 1996 p. 8

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