Confederate monuments: What happened to the Robert E. Lee marker in Franklin?

The marker honoring Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee stood for 90 years at the corner of South Dixie Highway and Hamilton-Middletown Road. The marker was removed last summer after it was found to be in the right-of-way for Dixie Highway. Franklin Twp. officials are working with the United Daughters of the Confederacy and the Franklin Fraternal Order of Eagles lodge to put the marker back on public display. ED RICHTER/STAFF

In August 2017, controversy erupted after the city of Franklin removed a marker honoring Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee and the Dixie Highway from its location of 90 years at the corner of Hamilton-Middletown Road and South Dixie Highway.

It now sits on the property of the Fraternal Order of Eagles lodge, where it was placed in June 2018 following heated debate.

Confederate monuments have been in contention again following the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis and the subsequent protests against racism about police injustice. That caused some readers to ask the Journal-News what happened to the Lee marker.

ExploreREAD MORE: Confederate marker back on display in Franklin

Late on the night of Aug. 17, 2017, a city public works crew removed the five-ton rock with a bronze plaque after a counter-protester was killed in Charlottesville, Va., when white supremacists marched to protest the removal of a Robert E. Lee statue there.

City officials said the marker was within the 50-foot right of way of South Dixie Highway and state law required it to be moved. They also said they were unaware the marker was in the right of way.

The marker was taken to the city garage for storage. However, the removal created controversy that led to heated meetings of Franklin City Council and Franklin Twp. that were packed with angry residents as well as various social and racial justice groups from around the region. Many city and township residents were angry about the marker’s removal.

City officials transferred the marker to Franklin Twp. after it was determined the marker was owned by the township. The marker was dedicated in 1927 by the United Daughters of the Confederacy which erected a number of markers to Robert E. Lee around the nation.

During the late-night removal, city crews scratched the bronze plaque. The city spent $2,000 to have the plaque refurbished, repaired and returned to the township.

After several months of discussions, township Trustee Brian Morris worked with the United Daughters of the Confederacy. The Fraternal Order of Eagles lodge agreed to host the relocated marker.

In June 2018, the marker was placed back on public display on private property in front of the Eagles lodge, 1075 N. Dixie Highway, which is inside the city limits. The marker is lit and monitored by a surveillance camera. A private rededication ceremony was held by the United Daughters of the Confederacy.

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