Luray Confederate statues turn out to be privately owned

Town officials believe the Virginia Historical Society are the owners of this statue on the...
Town officials believe the Virginia Historical Society are the owners of this statue on the west side of town.(WHSV)
Published: Jun. 30, 2020 at 5:45 PM EDT
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PAGE COUNTY, Va. (WHSV) — Two Confederate statues in the town of Luray have remained covered up after being vandalized earlier this month, but town officials are discovering it might not be their responsibility to clean the monuments up.

According to the Luray Police Department, no arrests have been made in connection to the vandalism of the two statues on June 1. Volunteers and town staff have done their best to remove paint from each of the statues, but not all of it.

“The monuments remained covered up to prevent further UV settling of the paint that had been placed there,” Steve Burke, town manager of Luray, said.

Over the past four weeks, the town has looked at ways to prevent an incident like this from happening again. Burke said that during their research the town discovered they don’t even own the monuments.

“During that time we conducted deep research on the properties and determined that each of the properties was actually privately owned,” Burke said.

Burke said the town has reached out to who their legal team who have located the owners. One is the family of the sculptor Herbert Barbee, who created one of the statues, and the other statue is owned by the Virginia Historical Society.

At one point the town did own the land, but it was later donated more than 100 years ago. Just ten years ago, the town and other organizations paid to have the monuments and the surrounding grounds revitalized.

“So that work did proceed, and again it’s the most recent research by a local law firm that confirmed that the properties are privately owned,” Burke said.

The town does not believe they would be able to get the money used back but would like to know what the owners would like to do with them.

One person WHSV spoke with in the town of Luray on Monday said he was sure many around the town would not mind having to pay to maintain the monuments and that many would volunteer their own time to help out.

Others like Sheryl Aiken said the money, that would be used for the monuments should be spent on education for the county.

“I feel like educating the youth of today on racism, why it happens, and how to move past it is what we need to be focusing on not statues of hate,” Aiken said.

Both parties have yet to respond to the town on what to do.

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