Saturday, July 18, 2020

Sepia Saturday: Monument Avenue

Sepia Saturday challenges bloggers to share family history through old photographs.

Last week’s Sepia Saturday prompt featured a postcard of Broad Street in Richmond, the capital of my state, Virginia. It was from the early 20th century, probably about the same time that my great-grandparents and their friends made a trip to Richmond.

A couple very old photos in the album belonging to my grandaunt Helen Killeen Parker fascinated me. I can date the photos to before 1918 because that is the year my great-grandfather John Fleming Walsh died.  
Possibly John Fleming Walsh
and Mary Theresa Walsh

My first thought was that they must have toured the beautiful Monument Avenue which has long offered a scenic drive through the city. Dotted every few blocks are monuments, most dedicated to the leaders of the Civil War. The one exception is a statue erected to honor Arthur Ashe, Richmond native tennis star.

George Washington Statue
Richmond, VA
When I saw this photo, I first thought it was of General Robert E. Lee, but the position of the horse did not match. It is actually the George Washington statue which is not even on Monument Avenue. Instead it stands outside the state capitol and marks the terminus of Grace Street.

Only 3 monuments were in place on Monument Avenue when the Walshes and friends made the trip. The neighborhood had only recently begun to come alive with grand residential architecture and gardens. No wonder they took so few photos. They probably were not very impressed.

Foreground - J.E.B. Stuart Monument (green-looking)
Robert E. Lee Monument (black-looking)
Way in the distance a column - Jefferson Davis Memorial
Today, few will be impressed with Monument Avenue. Few will remember the annual Monument Avenue 10K race or the spring time event, “Easter on Parade” when locals strolled the avenue in beautiful hats and other finery. In response to changing attitudes and standards, the statues were removed in early July 2020.

Stroll along the avenue to Sepia Saturday.

© 2020, Wendy Mathias. All rights reserved.


  1. I wondered about the statues. Sad they'll be removed. I guess better than being destroyed.


    1. I agree. I hope the statues will be put in a park with contextual signage or in a Confederate cemetery.

  2. I don't know what the answer is about the statues all over the country but I sure hate seeing them destroyed. :-(

    1. I have mixed feelings. I hate seeing the country respond in haste without thinking things through, but I'd rather see them moved than destroyed.