Removal of the Vance Monument from downtown Asheville's Pack Square can move forward after a Buncombe County judge denied a motion to halt it Monday.
Superior Court judge Steven Warren ruled against a motion to stop the removal of the 65-foot obelisk, which was completed in 1898 and is named for Zebulon Vance, North Carolina's Governor during the Civil War and U.S. Senator during Reconstruction. The motion was part of a lawsuit filed last week by The Society for the Historical Preservation of the 26th North Carolina Troops Inc. The suit alleges removal would violate a 2015 contract the group has with the city to restore the monument, something it says it raised more than $138-thousand to do. The city has asked the court to dismiss the suit entirely.
The lawsuit was filed after last Tuesday's 6-1 vote by city council to remove the monument. The next steps are to award a contract to remove the scaffolding on the obelisk, and then demolish it. The scaffolding was put up last summer to shroud the monument once a task force was created to study its future. The city has received five bids for the contract, which range from $114-thousand to $495-thousand in cost. Once the monument is gone, the site will be temporarily turned into a flower garden while a long-term plan for the site is completed. The city hopes to have the monument gone by the summer, and the long-term plan finished by the end of the year.
Zebulon Vance and his family enslaved people prior to the Civil War, and he fought vehemently against civil rights for Black Americans as a U.S. Senator after it. Asheville City Schools dropped his name from an elementary school earlier this year. Statues of Vance remain at the North Carolina Capitol in Raleigh and in the U.S. Capitol.