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Gainesville’s Old Joe Statue To Remain Outside County Building

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Old Joe isn’t going anywhere for now.

During the Nov. 3  County Commission meeting, commissioners had differing opinions on what should happen to Old Joe, Gainesville’s 111-year-old Civil War Confederate soldier.

The statue has been outside of the Alachua County Administration office since 1904, and will remain at its current location until further notice.

This photo taken July 10 shows an officer stands at the fault line between the two sides of the protest. Despite the cries of "The South will rise," and counter-cries, "We are the South," many of the protesters also tried to civilly discuss their differences over the statue of the Confederate soldier.
This photo, taken July 10, shows an officer standing at the fault line between protesters outside of the Alachua County Administration building. Those in attendance were debating the removal of the Confederate soldier statue. Samantha Schuyler / WUFT

In September, the County Commission voted 3-to-2 to move the statue to the Matheson Museum. However, on Oct. 28 the Matheson History Museum’s Board of Directors voted 9-to-2 not to accept the statue in the museum.

The Commission seemed split on the reasons why the museum did not want the statue. Commissioner Charles Chestnut IV was concerned about the terms of the strict contract the Matheson Museum would have to abide by if they were to take on the responsibility of the statue.

Chesnut said the contract puts a lot of responsibility on the museum in terms of upkeep and security.

Bob Ackerman, a board member for the museum since April, said the contract presented from the commission was “unattractive,” in September. 

The $11,000 of private funding it would take to move the statue is also an area of concern. Some board members stated this was the reason the Matheson Museum refused the statue, which was another concern Ackerman spoke to in September. Other members believed it was for ethical reasons.

County Attorney Michele Lieberman said the Matheson Museum sent an email detailing all of the reasons they refused the statue. Both monetary and ethical reasons were listed.

Commissioner Mike Byerly said the museum wanted to give Old Joe historical context, not just accept a controversial statue, but did not have the funds to do so.

Moving the statue to Kanapaha Veterans Memorial Park was discussed as well, but was tabled until the next meeting.

About Destiny Johnson

Destiny is a reporter for WUFT News and can be contacted by calling 352-392-6397 or emailing news@wuft.org.

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