Posted on October 3, 2020

Charlottesville to Seek Proposals to Remove Lewis-Clark-Sacagawea Statue

Nolan Stout, Daily Progress, September 30, 2020

Charlottesville plans to seek proposals to remove the West Main Street statue commemorating the Lewis and Clark expedition.


The statue depicts explorers Meriwether Lewis, who was born in Albemarle County, and William Clark, accompanied by Shoshone interpreter Sacagawea.

Native Americans have described its depiction of Sacagawea in a crouching, subordinate position, as defensive while others claim she is tracking.

The statue was donated to the city in 1919 by Paul Goodloe McIntire, who also donated the statues of Confederate Gens. Robert E. Lee and Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson and one at the University of Virginia of George Rogers Clark. UVa recently announced plans to remove the Clark statue and the city is seeking relief from a court order barring its removal of the Confederate statues.

The council directed staff to create a plan for the removal of the statue in November after consulting with Native Americans and some of Sacagawea’s descendants, who traveled to Charlottesville from Idaho.

The statue’s fate is complicated because of its connection to the West Main Streetscape project. {snip}

As part of the project, the statue was proposed to be moved about 20 feet southwest to an area that will be transformed into a pocket park. City staff estimated the shift would cost about $50,000, which is included in the total cost of the streetscape project.

The relocation was part of the first phase of construction, expected to start in 2021.


If the city uses state money for the removal, it would fall under restrictions by the Virginia Department of Historic Resources.

Jeanette Janiczek, the city’s urban construction initiative program manager, said in that case the city would have to remove the statue, store it and then reinstall it under state regulations at a cost of $125,000.

“It would be much less to remove it and throw it in the dump than to remove it, store it and then put it back on the pedestal,” city engineer Jack Dawson said.

To remove complications related to spending state money on the statue’s removal, Janiczek said staff’s recommendation was to use city funds to remove the statue before the streetscape project started. The state would play no role in the removal if only local funds are used.

“The one thing I’m against is wasting local or state dollars to move it six feet temporarily until we move it someplace else entirely,” Councilor Sena Magill said.