Robert E. Lee and Young Soldier

From Lost Cause to New Mission - a brief history Lee Park, Dallas, including the removal of the sculpture Robert E. Lee and Young Soldier in response to protests against Confederate Monuments.

Standing 14 feet, Robert E. Lee and Young Soldier was sculpted by renowned equestrian artist, Alexander Phimister Proctor, and officially dedicated by President Franklin D. Roosevelt on June 12, 1936 at Lee Park in Dallas, Texas. In attendance, were Robert E. Lee IV, who relayed the official white ribbon unveiling the sculpture to the President, and surviving Confederate veteran, W. H Wells. Attended by over 50,000 citizens, the dedication was broadcast live nationwide. [1]

   Commissioned by the Dallas Southern Memorial Society, the statue embraced the “Lost Cause” myth, created to portray the South as fighting for freedom versus slavery. A cleansed narrative was promulgated to attract investment, enabling the South to regain its economic footing following the Civil War. [2]

  Nationwide protests focused on Confederate monuments prompted the removal of the statue on September 14, 2017. Lee Park, its home of 81 years, reclaimed the original moniker, Oak Lawn Park, and remained the site of Arlington Hall, a 2/3 replica of Arlington House, home to Robert E. Lee and wife Mary Anna Randolph Custis, great granddaughter of George Washington, first President of the United States. Arlington House became the site of Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, Virginia. [3]

  In 1922 the Dallas Historical Society commissioned architect, Mark Lemmon, to design Arlington Hall.  Lemmon, with his partner Roscoe DeWitt, designed Highland Park Methodist Church,and later Lemmon designed Highland Park Presbyterian Church and the Perkins Chapel and Fondren Science Building at Southern Methodist University.

  On October 24, 1939, Arlington Hall was officially introduced, hosting USO and local events throughout World War II, and evolving into a notable activist stage throughout the Vietnam conflict. Arlington Hall is owned by the City of Dallas and managed by the Arlington Hall Conservancy, comprised of the Southern Memorial Association, the Turtle Creek Association, the Oak Lawn Forum, the Oak Lawn Committee and the Dallas Tavern Guild. In 1989, Alan Ross, founder of the Dallas Tavern Guild proposed an AIDS memorial near Arlington Hall, which had hosted the Dallas Gay Pride Organization, later renamed the Alan Ross Texas Freedom Parade. [4]

  In 1990, the Dallas Park Board ruled that the Dallas Tavern Guild could erect an AIDS Memorial, providing the words “AIDS”, gay, or lesbian not be used. In 1992, this decision was reversed, following the death of Alan Ross. The new memorial established in his honor noted, “This living tribute and surrounding beautification project is a gift to Lee Park and the city of Dallas in recognition of the AIDS community of Dallas County”. [5]  

  The history of Robert E. Lee, Arlington Hall, and Lee Park reflect progression from an era of oppression to an ethos embodying freedom, tolerance, and respect for human rights.

Sources

[1] Jenn Graffunder and Michael Hamtil, “Flashback: FDR unveiled Robert E. Lee Statue without controversy in 1936,” Dallas News – Dallas Morning News, (September 6, 2017), https://www.dallasnews.com/news/from-the-archives/2017/09/06/flashback-fdr-unveiled-robert-e-lee-statue-without-controversy-1936

[2] Patsy Davis: Contributer: “I attended the 1936 dedication of the Robert E. Lee Memorial in Dallas,” Dallas News – Dallas Morning News, (August 10, 2017), https://www.dallasnews.com/opinion/commentary/2017/08/10/attended-1936-dedication-robert-e-lee-memorial-dallas

[3] National Park Service, U.S. Department of the Interior, “Arlington Memorial and Arlington House,” https://www.nps.gov/nr/travel/wash/dc68.htm

[4] James Russell, “Arlington Hall at 75” Dallas Voice, (October 24, 2014), https://www.dallasvoice.com/arlington-hall-75-10183126.html

[5] David Taffet, “AIDS memorial that took flight with city to be rededicated” Dallas Voice, (June 21, 2013), https://www.dallasvoice.com/aids%E2%80%88memorial-fight-city-rededicated-10151100.html

Images

Newspaper Article on the unvailing

Newspaper Article on the unvailing

Reporting on the visit on President Franklin D. Roosevelt to Dallas for the unveiling of the statue Robert E. Lee and Young Solider in Lee Park, Dallas, on June 12, 1936. The Times Herald, June 14, 1936. Dallas History & Archives Division /Dallas Public Library. View File Details Page

Arlington Hall

Arlington Hall

Historical Marker on Arlington Hall in Oak Lawn Park, formerly known as Lee Park. Anita Kelley. View File Details Page

President's address

President's address

A stylized transcript of the address given by President Franklin D. Roosevelt at the unveiling of the statute of Robert E. Lee and Young Soldier in Dallas, on June 12, 1936. Dallas History & Archives Division /Dallas Public Library. View File Details Page

Invite to unveiling of statue at Robert E Lee Park

Invite to unveiling of statue at Robert E Lee Park

An invitation to the unveiling of the sculpture Robert E. Lee and Young Soldier, June 12, 1936. Dallas History & Archives Division /Dallas Public Library. View File Details Page

FDR in car in Dallas

FDR in car in Dallas

Governor of Texas James V. Allred, Dallas Mayor George Sargeant travel with President Franklin D. Roosevelt and Mrs. Elanor Roosevelt for the unveiling ceremony, June 12 1936. Dallas History & Archives Division /Dallas Public Library. View File Details Page

Street Address:

3333 Turtle Creek Blvd, Dallas, TX 75219 [map]

Cite this Page:

Anita E. Kelley, “Robert E. Lee and Young Soldier,” Human Rights Dallas Maps, accessed December 17, 2018, http://humanrightsdallasmaps.com/items/show/7.

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