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Arts & Culture

History Buffs Argue Fate of 'Confederate Memorial' Sign On Hillsborough Museum

A picture of the Orange County Historical Museum
Orange County Historical Museum in Hillsborough, NC

Leaders of the Orange County Historical Museum want permission from the City of Hillsborough to remove the phrase "Confederate Memorial" from the building's facade. The city owns the building and leases it to the museum.

It was once a library, built in the 1930s with funding from the United Daughters of the Confederacy and the federal government.

Museum Director Candace Midgett says museum operators would like the words removed from the building's exterior.

"First of all, it's confusing. We are not a Confederate Memorial," Midgett says. "And we are concerned that it acts as a barrier for some people in the community."

Mayor Tom Stevens says opponents argue that it's an attempt to "whitewash" history.

"I think the board was fairly divided about whether it was okay for the lettering to come down or not. I think the board was in full agreement that we would like to see some interpretive materials, whether that's outside the museum or inside the museum."

Trustees of UNC-Chapel Hill devised a similar solution when deciding to rename Saunders Hall.

Mayor Stevens says the town is also reviewing ownership of the building. He says it needs significant repairs, and it's unclear whether the city will sell off the building if the museum cannot pay for renovations.

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