DHR Sets the Fiscal Benchmark for Statue Removal

The Lee statue being removed from the U.S. Capitol building.

by James A. Bacon

Let us all praise Virginia’s Department of Historic Resources. The department may be part of the culture-cleansing machine taking down historical statues and moving them to locales where they don’t offend people, but at least it is looking out for the taxpayer.

The Northam administration, acting through DHR, made national news last December when a statue of Robert E. Lee was removed from the National Statuary Hall Collection of the U.S., Capitol and relocated to a Richmond storage facility. But news accounts, such as this Associated Press piece, didn’t tell the story behind the story.

DHR arranged for the removal and transport of the statue to Richmond for $11,700. Let that serve as a benchmark for appraising the procurement policies of governments and universities carrying out their purges. (For background, see Carol Bova’s recent article, “Making Money from Cultural Cleansing.”)

In her digging through state procurement files, Carol came across DHR’s statement of work as follows:

The Department of Historic Resources will purchase services from a qualified contractor in order to safely transport the Robert E. Lee statue and based, located in the crypt of the US Capitol located First St. SE, Washington, DC 2004 to the Virginia Museum of History and Culture. The contractor will perform the services necessary to successfully transport and keep safe the statue by adhering to the components listed below….

The contract submitted by Hutchinson International Corp., of Beltsville, Md., filled in the details:

We will provide Men, Tools, and Equipment to remove noted statue from Crypt U.S. Capital Building. We will provide basic skid, then load & secure in our van take to our secured facility store until the following Monday. Then we will haul to above mentioned site. The Statue & Base will be unloaded at the dock. The stone base will be taken to storage room adjacent to the loading dock, down the short ramp. Then the statue via elevator will be taken to 2nd floor and will be placed as directed for the sum of $ 11,700.00 Eleven Thousand Seven Hundred Dollars & no cents.

No two statue removals are identical. Some statues are bigger than others. Some contracts call for removing the statues but not the pedestals. Some contracts entail moving multiple statues. Regardless, costs don’t vary by a factor of twenty to one hundred.

When Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney paid contractor NAH, LLC, $1.8 million to remove a dozen statues, cannons and other memorials last year, at least he had the excuse that protestors were threatening to burn down the city and he didn’t have time to abide by the usual procurement policies.

What excuse did the City of Charlottesville have for paying $1 million to remove three statues — of Robert E Lee; Stonewall Jackson; and Lewis, Clark and Sacagawea? There were no protests. Time was not of the essence.

What excuse did the University of Virginia have for paying $430,000 to remove the statue of George Rogers Clark and stone pedestal? No protests, no time pressure.

What excuse did the Virginia Military Institute have for paying $209,000 to take down the statue of Stonewall Jackson? Again, no protests, no time pressure.

Being woke doesn’t have to mean squandering tax dollars as well as expunging memorials to dead white men. Let’s give a polite round of applause to the Department of Historical Resources’ procurement officer Madrika Martin. Public servants who do a good job deserve our recognition.

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16 responses to “DHR Sets the Fiscal Benchmark for Statue Removal”

  1. LarrytheG Avatar

    I think if you look at the photo in the AP article, you’ll see it’s a relatively small statue compared to the others.

    But geeze, here you go again quoting the leftist MSM for your facts… one day then accusing them of being lying woke SOBs the next?

    1. LesGabriel Avatar

      They lie only about what they think are irrelevant data. Sometimes it comes back to bite them, in which case they either ignore the data or erase what they can.

      1. Stephen Haner Avatar
        Stephen Haner

        We all just keep dancing around the Big Prize they really want, the Houdon statue of ‘ol GW in his Revolutionary War uniform at the center of the state capitol, considered the most valuable piece of statuary in the entire United States. Larry picks up one complaint from a citizen in a protected category and sayonara, General W.

        He was removed and returned during the building renovation and I bet both trips combined didn’t cost anywhere near these amounts.


        1. James Wyatt Whitehead Avatar
          James Wyatt Whitehead

          I love how Houdoun invokes the memory of Cincinnatus.

        2. James Wyatt Whitehead Avatar
          James Wyatt Whitehead

          Steve did you know that Extra Billy Smith, Stonewall, and Stonewall’s Doctor still grace the grounds of Capitol Square? Minus Harry Byrd of course. He really was blocking Extra Billy’s view.

        3. LarrytheG Avatar

          As Bacon said above, the logistics and costs of moving each one is unique. This whole line of complaint about costs is just more carping. Never heard folks complain about the costs of moving a historic house or other artifacts.. just more boggeyman foolishness.

          1. WayneS Avatar

            This whole line of complaint about costs is just more carping.

            Jahwohl Herr Neunmalkluger!

            Although, in actuality, you know nothing about how much the work should cost so your statement is based entirely in bigotry and ignorance.

            I have some experience in construction cost estimating. When the Richmond statue removal first came up, I did my own cost estimate for the removal of the three statues. I looked up cost figures for the necessary tasks, using the high-end values from RS Means rounded up to the next $10/hr. I used actual rental/operating costs for the exact crane models and other equipment the contractor used (identified from the pictures in the newspaper) marked up by 15% and rounded up to the next $10/hr. I even added the cost of 5 full-time security personnel throughout the project, even though the city was providing security. I then added a generous 25% contingency to the total amount.

            I did everything I could to make my estimate as high as I could reasonably make it. Yet, using all that conservatism in estimating the costs, the figure I came up with was a little less than $600,000 for removing all three statues. When I say the statue removal cost was too high I am not just guessing.

            You appear to be so in love with the idea of removing these historical monuments from our society that you are unwilling to take a critical look at how the work is being completed. It is a sad example of extreme, irrational partisanship and it is beneath you.

          2. Matt Adams Avatar
            Matt Adams

            Wee doggy 25% contingence, I like your thinking.

          3. WayneS Avatar

            At least I didn’t use a 380% contingency like the mayor’s friend apparently did.


          4. Matt Adams Avatar
            Matt Adams

            Well I hope when they invoiced for the month the excess profit didn’t run up any “red flags”. They certainly weren’t worried about any clawback.

      2. LarrytheG Avatar

        who “lies”? The AP? If they do then why cite them for facts EVER?

  2. WayneS Avatar

    The statue is significantly smaller than the outdoor statues which have been taken down. However, the other statues are not being transported 110 miles over the highway.

    In any event, I am in 100% agreement with you that these cities and universities are wasting taxpayer dollars by agreeing to pay the amounts they are paying. And some people are laughing all the way to the bank.

    1. James Wyatt Whitehead Avatar
      James Wyatt Whitehead

      Indeed Mr. Wayne we have seen on this blog the leadership in Bowling Green and Isle of Wight of how the monument relocation can be of great ease and of at no cost to the public. It was done with some degree of honor to top it off.

  3. Donald Smith Avatar
    Donald Smith

    Does DHR have an estimate for how much it’s going to cost to sandblast or jackhammer Stonewall Jackson’s name off of Old Barracks at VMI? I’ll bet the Taliban still has the name of the folks who removed the Bamiyan statutes.

    1. WayneS Avatar

      I’ll do it for $650,000.

      Don’t tell VMI, but included in that cost is the application of some moisture-activated color-changing grout to the surface so that his name will reappear whenever it rains.


  4. The exorbitant cost was driven in part by white supremacy itself. Many local contractors wouldn’t bid on the statue removal projects because of threatened backlash from white supremacist businesses — they would lose many customers if they participated in the statue removal.

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