We have a tradition of moving monuments,” noted St. Louis’s director of human services, Eddie Roth, “and nobody should know that better than sympathizers of the Confederate cause.”¹ Roth was speaking to a reporter in the summer of 2015, responding to a brewing controversy over Mayor Francis Slay’s call to “reappraise”² the city’s Confederate Memorial, which—until its removal in June 2017—had been located for more than a century on the northern border of Forest Park. Though oblique, Roth’s reference was to one particular monument: a statue of Union Brigadier-General Nathaniel Lyon, which had been relocated during the early 1960s from its original heavily-trafficked location in the heart of Midtown to a small park in a corner of the city, tucked behind the Anheuser-Busch brewery complex. Though largely forgotten since, the Lyon statue’s tangled history offers a broader and sharper lens into the stakes of more recent contestation over statues in St. Louis.
Originally, Mayor Slay’s April 2015 call to reappraise the Forest Park monument, and his appointment of a committee to consider its relocation, was timed to coincide with the monument’s centennial year.³ But local discussions quickly took on wider national resonance following the June 17, 2015, killings of Reverend Clementa Pinckney and eight congregants at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina. In the days after, a widely disseminated image featured the perpetrator, 21-year-old White supremacist Dylann Roof, waving the Confederate flag, sparking debate about the endurance of Confederate symbols. Roth’s statement came on the morning of June 24, after activists wielding spray cans and paint-filled glass ornaments brought renewed attention to Forest Park, and thus to Mayor Slay’s call. In an act of protest that reflected both the renewed national attention to Confederate monuments after Charleston and the local resonance of the 2014 police killing of Michael Brown in nearby Ferguson, splashes of red paint covered the rear side of the 32-foot memorial, defacing a bronze relief depicting a southern family sending a soldier off to war. On the front side, carved text written by St. Louis minister (and Confederate veteran) Robert Catlett Cave honoring “the Memory of the Soldiers and Sailors of the Southern Confederacy” was covered with a large spray-painted “X,” with “Fuck the Confederacy” and, in bolder lettering, “Black Lives Matter” inscribed underneath.
Two years later, the controversy surrounding the Confederate Memorial’s removal from Forest Park once again placed St. Louis squarely within a movement that encompassed dozens of communities around the nation. In December 2016, for instance, following the recommendations of a special commission established in the aftermath of Charleston, Baltimore mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake oversaw the installation of interpretive plaques at the city’s four Confederate-era monuments that forthrightly invoked the statues’ association with White supremacy.⁴ In the spring of 2017, following a protracted legal battle, New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu carried out the City Council’s 2015 decision to remove four monuments associated with the Confederate cause, delivering a soaring speech that garnered the national spotlight. Around the same time, the inverse occurred at the University of Texas at Austin, when a statue of Jefferson Davis—removed in 2015 from its central location on campus—reappeared in a permanent exhibit at a university research center, titled “From Commemoration to Education.”
As these disparate outcomes demonstrate, such campaigns manifested not only as binary debates over whether contested monuments should remain visible, but also where they might properly be located and how they might be repurposed to convey historical lessons about the relationship between symbolic landscapes and larger systems of racial oppression. Accordingly, these diverse trajectories represent the wide range of possibilities envisioned in ongoing debates over the proper recontextualization of commemorative landscapes. In St. Louis, the dual trajectories of the Lyon statue and Confederate Memorial reflect both the in situ role of symbolic material objects and—more pointedly—how the landscapes in question intersect with sites whose broader histories are bound up in urban renewal campaigns centered on the relocation of residents. Social scientists have long engaged the ramifications of relocation, primarily as it affects residents of communities upended by natural disasters, urban renewal, or gentrification.⁵ This tradition typically centers on how such displacements reduce or obliterate stocks of social capital, rupturing interpersonal and institutional networks associated with the health and well-being of neighborhoods and their residents. Such effects demonstrate the rootedness of social structure in physical spaces and the consequent fragility of social worlds once these roots are disrupted.
As these disparate outcomes demonstrate, such campaigns manifested not only as binary debates over whether contested monuments should remain visible, but also where they might properly be located and how they might be repurposed to convey historical lessons about the relationship between symbolic landscapes and larger systems of racial oppression.
But such social consequences cannot be cleaved from the cultural fabric through which shared identities and investments in communities gain meaning. Large-scale alterations of neighborhoods and communities also refashion public memory associated with those places. This refashioning occurs not only through the displacement of residents who hold that memory but also through a recontextualization of public objects whose intended meanings—often bound up with the historical persons or events that the objects serve to recall and celebrate—must be renegotiated within their transformed surroundings.
In this direct sense, as part of the broader story of St. Louis’s mid-century urban renewal campaigns, the Lyon statue’s removal served as a material and symbolic representation of displacement—a process forged by city leaders and key civic institutions, and borne most directly by the residents of neighborhoods designated as “blighted” and thus fit for relocation. Likewise, Forest Park’s displaced Confederate Memorial not only signals a forward-looking sense that such symbols have no place in contemporary St. Louis, but also speaks to the weight still borne by twentieth-century urban policies and the divisions and inequality that they have engendered.
By drawing out these relationships between material and social representations of displacement and segregation, we consider the Lyon statue’s mid-century displacement as a sort of lever for assessing the stakes associated with the more recent public struggle around the Confederate Memorial in Forest Park.
Forest Park’s displaced Confederate Memorial not only signals a forward-looking sense that such symbols have no place in contemporary St. Louis, but also speaks to the weight still borne by twentieth-century urban policies and the divisions and inequality that they have engendered.
Camp Jackson and the making (and unmaking) of Nathaniel Lyon
Nathaniel Lyon’s place in St. Louis history was secured with his 1861 victory over secessionist forces in the Camp Jackson Affair. As commander of the St. Louis Arsenal, Captain (and later Brigadier-General) Lyon held the largest cache of arms in Missouri, though his control over those armaments was threatened by pro-Confederate Governor Claiborne Fox Jackson’s refusal to muster federal troops and consequent encampment of voluntary militia forces, led by General Daniel M. Frost, at St. Louis’s then-western boundary (now Midtown). Lyon, fearing a Frost-led secessionist capture of the arsenal, mobilized a large pro-Union force and surrounded Camp Jackson, causing the badly-outnumbered Frost to surrender.⁶ Though this skirmish would be far from the last Union campaign to thwart Confederate insurrection in Missouri, its role in defining the terms of that struggle—and in particular, solidifying St. Louis’s reputation as a Union stronghold in a slaveholding state with significant Confederate leanings—ensured that General Lyon’s actions loomed large in the city’s history.
As a result, less than a decade after the Civil War’s conclusion, a memorial—in the form of an obelisk—was dedicated by the Lyon Monument Association in the Brigadier-General’s honor and placed in a park near the St. Louis Arsenal site. In 1929, a separate and more figurative (though much-maligned) representation by local sculptor Erhardt Siebert was placed in a more prominent location on the former Camp Jackson site, at the edge of Mill Creek Valley, a large working-class Black neighborhood that extended just east of Saint Louis University’s (SLU) midtown campus. By the late 1950s, Chapter 99 and Chapter 353 urban renewal acts enabled city officials to declare Mill Creek “blighted”—citing the presence of unsanitary outhouses and rodents throughout “100 blocks of hopeless…slums”—and tap public funds for land acquisition, clearance, and redevelopment.
Though controversies over a lack of relocation support for displaced residents and stagnating redevelopment efforts earned the area the nickname “Hiroshima Flats,”⁷ one feature that remained was the Lyon statue, which stood at Mill Creek Valley’s western edge, near the intersection of West Pine and Grand Boulevards. SLU had long eyed the surrounding area as the site of its expanded Midtown campus, an aspiration realized in 1959 via a gift exceeding $1 million from Harriet Frost Fordyce, the daughter of Camp Jackson’s General Frost. Her pledge would secure the $535,743 purchase of 22.5 acres from the city’s Land Clearance Authority, enabling SLU to significantly expand its North campus.⁸ While the university faced a broader challenge to their expansion plans in the form of a lawsuit contesting the LCA’s ability to sell the property,⁹ SLU’s President, Paul Reinert, S.J., needed to meet a more immediate condition outlined by Fordyce: Erect some sort of memorial to her father. For Father Reinert, doing so meant also reconciling such a move with the presence on the same site of a monument to Frost’s nemesis Lyon. The evident awkwardness was resolved in short order, with the removal of the Lyon statue—according to one insider source—to its present location in the city’s south-eastern fringe “under the cover of darkness” following a brief but successful petition drive championed by a local politician. SLU formally dedicated its expanded Frost Campus in 1965, and the university’s redevelopment of the remainder of the former Mill Creek parcel proceeded quickly thereafter, with the campus’s Busch Student Center and Ritter Hall opening on that land in 1967 and 1968, respectively.10
Comparing the Lyon and Confederate Memorial relocation campaigns
How can we understand the stakes associated with the relocation of the Lyon statue, and what it might tell us about more recent efforts to reappraise the Confederate Memorial in Forest Park? Explaining both the process and outcome associated with earlier efforts to relocate the Lyon statue from Mill Creek requires that we address SLU’s longstanding relationship with the Frost family and the city, Lyon’s orientation to St. Louis’s past, and the material form of the statue itself.
Harriet Frost Fordyce’s gift to the university was one product of a relationship between her family and the Jesuit institution that predated even the Civil War. Following his graduation from West Point, Daniel Frost’s military career included a post at Jefferson Barracks in St. Louis County. After serving in the Mexican-American War, he returned to the city in the late 1840s, when he met and married Lily Graham, the daughter of the city’s mayor. Converting to Catholicism in 1853, he was baptized by Father John Peter De Smet, a well-known missionary and key early figure at SLU, and a year later was elected to the Missouri State Senate. His connection to De Smet, who referred to Frost as his godson, enabled a second return to St. Louis following his surrender at Camp Jackson, subsequent resignation from the Confederate Army, and self-exile in Canada. The retired Frost then lived out the remainder of his days in the city, supporting the university in its move to its present North Campus (on the Camp Jackson site) in 1888, a dozen years before his death.11
Frost had remarried in 1873 following the death of his first wife Lily, and the second daughter from that union, Harriet, was born in 1876. Harriet married the successful lawyer Samuel Wesley Fordyce and later served as a nurse’s aide and ambulance driver in France during World War I. Like her father, she became close with many of SLU’s Jesuit leaders, and in 1955 deeded to SLU her family’s 40-acre Hazelwood estate near the current Lambert Airport site for the university’s use as a retreat house. In recognition of her contributions, SLU bestowed upon Harriet its highest service award, the Fleur-de-Lis. Around campus, she was affectionately known as “Aunt Hatty,” a moniker institutionalized in the 1970s as the name of a restaurant in SLU’s Busch Student Center.12 This close connection as a major SLU benefactor provided a backdrop to Harriet’s 1959 gift to fund the university’s North Campus expansion. Lyon’s reputation as Frost’s nemesis, combined with the latter’s decades-long relationship with SLU, ensured that any proposal to retain the Lyon statue would be rendered—as the university’s alumni magazine succinctly noted—“unthinkable” on both a personal and historical level.13
The social and fiscal capital that Fordyce brought to bear in conjunction with her gift was reinforced by the form and content of the statue itself, which—from its inception—decidedly lacked the symbolic capacity to inspire pride. When it was unveiled in 1929, one reporter described “the strange and wobbly bronze horse, upon the bony back of which squats an elongated bronze gentleman supposed to represent Gen. Nathaniel Lyon.” Distinguished St. Louis artist Edmund Wuerpel proclaimed the statue “a crime against art,” while some of his colleagues observed that Lyon’s horse “looked more like an animal cracker giraffe.”14 These initial aesthetic judgments remained entrenched: In the months leading up to its relocation, the SLU student newspaper recalled that the statue had been installed “over the protests of St. Louis art societies.”15
Indeed, especially when compared with the majestic equestrian monuments to Civil War-era figures that dot the national landscape, the Lyon statue is decidedly lacking in nobility and grandeur. Lyon leans to the side and gazes downward, conveying hesitation more than heroism. Unlike most Civil War statuary, Lyon does not strike the observer as particularly masculine, strong, or protective. Frost’s surrender itself is depicted in low relief, which certainly celebrates Lyon’s triumph and elevates his status. This stark portrayal of Frost’s subordination—he sits beneath Lyon, looking downward in supplication—poses an unmistakable challenge to the “reconciliationist” narratives that came to predominate in the years after the war, which privileged unity among Whites over the “emancipationist” quest for racial equality.16
For his part, Siebert held steadfast in the face of criticism, and enjoyed support from St. Louis Mayor Victor Miller. If “certain people” didn’t like it, Miller suggested, they “didn’t have to look at it.”17 The statement was prescient, though not for the reasons envisioned. Following Fordyce’s request, the statue was banished to the city’s periphery—relocated to Lyon Park, near the St. Louis arsenal site, where it now stands alongside the obelisk also dedicated to the Union general. One local blogger noted that only fourteen people called the surrounding Kosciusko neighborhood home, describing the park itself as “kind of a no man’s land.”18 Within the park, the statue is not only difficult to locate but also quite clearly neglected; overgrown rosebushes obscure the text identifying the monument as a commemoration of “The Capture of Camp Jackson by General Nathaniel Lyon” and proclaiming that “The Strength of Our Nation is the Union of States.” In 2017, the metal plaque adorned to the monument’s front was stolen, leaving the statue mostly unidentified.
The Lyon statue’s displacement stands in sharp contrast to the Confederate Memorial’s century-long presence in Forest Park, a location both geographically central and symbolically significant. As the site of the 1904 World’s Fair and a frequent top entry on contemporary lists of the nation’s best urban parks, city and civic leaders regularly refer to Forest Park as the city’s “jewel.”19 Abutting Washington University, the Barnes Jewish Medical complex, and fashionable residential neighborhoods in St. Louis’s Central West End, the park also offers easy access to out-of-towners traveling to the city via major thoroughfares. This central location, along with the park’s housing of the Saint Louis Zoo, Saint Louis Art Museum, Missouri History Museum, and multiple picnic areas, pathways, and sports fields, ensure the park’s accessibility and visibility. Placed in the park’s northeast corner, cradled by the semi-circular roadway formerly known as Confederate Drive, the monument itself embodied the grandeur that is strikingly absent in the Lyon statue, even as it lacked the explicitly martial symbolism typically associated with war memorials.
Tellingly, the guidelines for the Confederate Memorial design competition were explicitly designed to ward off contention in a city with divided loyalties. Announcing sculptor George Julian Zolnay’s victory in 1912, the Times-Dispatch reported that “to avoid arousing any possible antagonism, no figure of a Confederate soldier, or object of modern warfare, should be in the design.” Zolnay’s solution was to construct a symbol that “represent[ed] the spirit of the South, inspiring its men to deeds of bravery,” elevating the general ideal of courage over the particularities of the cause. The monument’s inscriptions conjure unity, celebrating the “sublime self-sacrifice” of the “soldiers and sailors of the Southern Confederacy,” and portraying them as agents in a national rather than regional narrative: valorous men “who fought to uphold the right declared by the pen of Jefferson and achieved by the sword of Washington,” and thus inheritors of the revolutionary ethos.
The Southern man depicted in high bronze relief is not an actual combatant, but instead a potential soldier, “impelled by his wife or sweetheart, his mother, and a little child to go forth to fight for the South.” The male figure is centrally situated, and both he and the (male) child hold props—a soldier’s cap and a Confederate flag, respectively—that subtly signify leadership and institutional power, while the two women grip the arms of the stoic soldier-to-be. Above this assemblage, in low relief, is a female angel representing “the spirit of the South,” which—the Times-Dispatch suggested—is symbolically accessible “regardless of varying beliefs as to the justice of its cause.”20 Delicate and beautiful, with strong whimsical wings, the angel’s feminine hand is strategically placed over her heart, evoking compassion and respect for the fallen. In short, and in keeping with broader patterns in representational practice, men are active, central, and strong, while women, if present and in human form, are passive and marginal.21
The gendered patterning of the monument was underscored in the soaring language used at its unveiling, when it was portrayed as a “beautiful…tribute” to the memory of “[t] he 600,000 Southern men who served under the Confederate flag” and “fought with bitter determination to win.” In contrast to Mayor Miller’s rather defensive claim that those who were displeased with the Lyon statue’s aesthetics should simply look away, Mayor Henry Kiel’s representative at the Forest Park dedication—St. Louis’s Director of Public Welfare Emil Tolkacz—told the ceremony’s 500 attendees that “the monument would stand forever as a memorial to the bravery of the Southern soldiers.”22
A century later, Mayor Slay reconsidered precisely this commitment, seeking to transform not only the monument’s location but also its meaning. What was once intended as a reverent tribute, he suggested, should be reinterpreted as a historical artifact and preserved as a relic of a bygone era rather than an object of commemoration. Unlike the Lyon statue, which was “exiled to a sleepy southside park,” Slay noted in 2015 that he wanted the Confederate monument moved “to another prominent, more suitable locale.”23 In September 2016, after considering the report from the Confederate Monument Reappraisal Committee and that committee’s failure to secure a suitable alternative St. Louis site for the memorial, Slay submitted a letter to Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell and Director of the National Park Service (NPS) Jonathan Jarvis, requesting that the monument be relocated to Wilson’s Creek National Battlefield in Republic, Missouri. Operated by the NPS, Wilson’s Creek is not only the location of the first major Civil War battle fought west of the Mississippi River, but also the very site where Nathaniel Lyon was killed in action. In accepting the donation, Slay suggested, the NPS “could constructively advance debates in communities across the nation on how best to preserve and interpret our complex and controversial legacy of Confederate monuments”—perhaps inspiring repositioning on a wider scale.24
What was once intended as a reverent tribute, Mayor Slay suggested, should be reinterpreted as a historical artifact and preserved as a relic of a bygone era rather than an object of commemoration.
Yet as Slay’s term approached its end, and his successor Lyda Krewson took office in April 2017, the possibility of expunction loomed large. After hearing from an NPS official in late 2016 that commemorative works can only be accepted through an act of Congress, Eddie Roth underscored Slay’s commitment to the object’s removal. To minimize costs, Roth explained on St. Louis Public Radio, the city could opt to bury the monument within Forest Park by “excavat[ing] a hole near where the monument is currently situated, put[ting] timbers down the hole, and essentially cover[ing] it up with soil.” He added: “The granite would be no worse for the wear.”25
While during her first weeks in office, Krewson refused to consider the burial option, her spokesperson Koran Addo was clear about her stance on the monument: “The mayor wants it down. She understands it’s an emotionally charged issue. It’s hurtful to so many people.” While publicly advocating a move to a city storage facility rather than to an alternative public venue, Krewson also raised the possibility of destroying the memorial altogether by repurposing its raw materials. Meanwhile, the city continued to reject overtures from the Missouri Civil War Museum at Jefferson Barracks, which had agreed to accept the monument for future placement on an undisclosed tract in St. Louis County on the condition that full ownership of the monument—and thus control over how it would be contextualized and presented to the public—transfer to them.26
In June 2017, however, the contours of the debate shifted. Following a series of dueling weekly protests, a public campaign by fifth-graders at nearby New City School to present novel recontextualization proposals, and a third round of graffiti trumpeting critical positions (“Nat Turner Lives,” “Black Lives Matter,” and “End Racism”) on three sides of the monument itself, the city established a work site by cordoning off the Confederate Memorial with traffic barricades and even removed its top portion, as part of a plan to move the monument to an undisclosed city storage site.27 Soon after, the Civil War Museum filed a lawsuit claiming ownership, based on a transfer of deed they had received from the United Daughters of the Confederacy (UDC), which had commissioned the monument in 1912 and funded its original placement in Forest Park. Though it remained unclear whether the city in fact retained ownership rights, the city, the museum, and the UDC quickly reached an agreement transferring the object to the museum. The museum assumed the costs of removal and conceded that the memorial “will not be placed or publicly displayed in the City of St. Louis or St. Louis County at any time in the future,” and moreover that “any future placement and display…will be limited to…a Civil War Museum, a Civil War battlefield, or a Civil War cemetery.”28
Conclusions: The material world of Civil War representations in St. Louis
The relocation of the Lyon monument and the campaign to remove the Confederate monument are both cases in which stakeholders organized to move an iconic image of the past in order to better align with present-day interests and values. These cases, however, exhibit a pronounced asymmetry in terms of process. While the Lyon statue’s move was spearheaded by a major institution and accomplished without controversy, fanfare, or delay, the Confederate monument’s expunction from the city’s landscape followed more than two years’ worth of signals from city officials of their intentions to relocate a symbol that they felt was “not the kind of thing that we should be celebrating in our most exalted public space.”29
Such fundamental asymmetry in these inverted cases illuminates the city’s management of Civil War representations, in particular the process through which they undertake and respond to relocation campaigns. The Lyon statue’s move was assumed at the urging of SLU, whose influential allies included city aldermen and urban renewal officials. The university’s request was not offered as an honorific or critique of either side of the Civil War struggle, but rather as an homage to a major figure and benefactor of the university. Indeed, SLU’s commemoration of Fordyce’s gift omitted Frost’s military service entirely, instead referring to the General only as a “long-time friend and supporter of pioneer Jesuit Peter De Smet.” It was also undertaken “quietly,” as an ancillary feature of the decidedly more public and charged redevelopment effort in the Mill Creek parcel where the statue resided. As such, the statue’s relocation corresponded with the broader displacement of neighborhood residents and subsequent expunction of that neighborhood’s presence and heritage. In contrast, the Mayor’s explicit and public call to reposition the Confederate monument—in the charged climate associated with the Ferguson protests and subsequent Black Lives Matter movement and similarly contentious ongoing national debates over the significance of sites honoring slaveholders and Confederate leaders—left the campaign vulnerable to charges of illegitimate erasure.
Even more, the broader stakes of the campaigns relate not only to short-run contestation associated with the process of relocation, but also illuminate how differing modes of relocation define the longer-run function those memorials serve in communities. Relocation, we have underscored, takes on different forms. In its transition from Mill Creek to Kosciusko, the Lyon statue was displaced: though it remained a commemorative object, it was relegated to the city’s periphery, its visibility dramatically diminished. Lyon Park is geographically isolated from St. Louis’s downtown and other vibrant residential centers, and situated in an area that receives almost no foot traffic. As noted above, such impressions are reinforced by city census reports, online images, and discourse (few clear images of the statue appear in a general Google image search, and the statue’s tangled history would have been almost entirely absent from the Internet if not for Mayor Slay’s recent invocation of that history), and our visits to the site itself (where the statue was difficult to view even if one made a concerted effort to see it, with its lower half—including its now-purloined explanatory text—covered by a dense thicket of rose bushes). As a result, the potential cultural capital this statue once held is lost among the thorns in the dissolute park in which it stands.
The fate of Forest Park’s Confederate Memorial stands in sharp contrast. For the two-year period leading up to its June 2017 removal, the efforts of the Mayor’s office—backed by the recommendations of the appointed Reappraisal Committee—alternated between repositioning and expunction. As a form of relocation, repositioning extends beyond displacement, functioning to convert an object by changing not just its location/visibility, but also its classification—from a commemorative object inviting veneration or celebration to a historical artifact inviting analysis and contextualization. Crucially, while such transitions can intersect with a change in venue, they enable a monument to continue commanding attention and discussion in an environment that offers space for context and reassessment, thus providing a means through which to re-navigate the object’s public meaning(s) and thereby transitively retain its associated cultural capital.
The broader stakes of the campaigns relate not only to short-run contestation associated with the process of relocation, but also illuminate how differing modes of relocation define the longer-run function those memorials serve in communities.
This aim of preservation amidst recontextualization was of course a key point of contestation among critics of the Confederate Memorial’s relocation, who claimed that any effort to that effect will risk “erasing history.” Throughout 2016, Mayor Slay steadily pushed back again such characterizations, stating publicly that:
The idea, pushed in social media and a chain email campaign, that moving the monument to another prominent, more suitable locale represents an “erasing” of our history is absurd. There has been more public attention paid to the Confederate Monument since I called for its reappraisal than had occurred in all of the preceding 50 years combined.30
This emphasis on visibility became more difficult to maintain, however, once the city’s inability to find a willing taker among the nine institutions invited to submit proposals to receive the repositioned monument pushed the Mayor’s office to migrate toward expunction—via proposals to bury the monument under its longtime Forest Park site, or to iconoclastically repurpose its materials into sidewalks or other pragmatic municipal features, or to banish the object from the city’s borders. Here, expunction, in both concept and realization, thus gestures toward the legal meaning, in which the evidence of prior misdeeds is removed from public records.
The monument’s present status demonstrates the complexities of this aim. Borne out of a compromise sparked by the Missouri Civil War Museum’s legal challenge to ownership, the city was able to gain assurance that the object would never again be displayed within the city’s borders. In a similar spirit, the Forest Park site has been entirely transformed, with grass planted on the space that the memorial had long occupied and the surrounding semi-circular Confederate Drive plowed over to create uninterrupted green space.31 No markers or other visible signals reference the object’s century-long presence in that space, and the transfer of ownership away from the city reduces the likelihood that the Confederate Memorial’s existence will be considered in repositioned form in the adjacent Missouri History Museum. In these senses, the monument and its traces are absent from the city’s landscape.
The object itself, however, has not been completely expunged. The Civil War Museum has stated its intention to display the monument at an as-yet-undeveloped privately-owned site. As such, its displaced status—both of the city and apart from it—will continue to evoke the broader politics of displacement associated with Mill Creek Valley. The diaspora of that community’s former residents to other areas of the city, and—eventually—to surrounding inner-ring suburbs accelerated a larger migration of middle- and working-class White families from St. Louis’s borders. In this issue and elsewhere, scholars have documented how that “White flight” outmigration has contributed to the patchwork of ninety municipalities in the surrounding county, which remains administratively severed from the urban core.32 In a very real sense, then, the mass migration of former city residents into a region that continues to fiercely resist proposals to merge and reconstitute a city/county partnership directly mirrors the proposed replacement of the Confederate Memorial. Both continue to stand in judgment of their former home, their separation unreconciled on either side of the border.