HELENA — The Confederate Memorial Fountain that once stood in Helena’s Hill Park is currently in storage in an undisclosed location. Now, the group that originally donated it is asking to have it returned.
Jewel Wellborn, the president of the Margaret Howell Davis Hayes Chapter of the United Daughters of the Confederacy, sent an email to the Helena City Commission earlier this month. In it, she asked them to consider letting her group relocate the memorial.
“As a result of the commission’s decision for its removal in 2017, and its choice of storage at its current location, it is obvious that the memorial is no longer wanted or needed by the citizens of Helena and Montana and will no longer be displayed in the foreseeable future,” Wellborn said in the email. “Under these circumstances, we find it reasonable to request that the unwanted remains of the donated memorial fountain be returned to the United Daughters of the Confederacy who originally paid for and dedicated the memorial.”
The United Daughters of the Confederacy donated the fountain in 1916. It included an inscription saying, “A loving tribute to our Confederate soldiers.”
In 2017, the city commission decided to remove the fountain, citing fears that it could become a center for conflict, after rallies at a Confederate monument in Charlottesville, Virginia turned violent. The fountain came down in August of that year.
Wellborn said the UDC has already organized logistics for moving the fountain and could relocate it at any time if the city gives its approval. She told MTN they would hope to remove it without extensive public attention.
Wellborn told MTN that someone in Helena had contacted her about the fountain about a year ago, and her organization concluded it was a monument worth preserving. She said the group would bring it to a location where they are already storing and maintaining a number of other displaced monuments.
The city says, at this time, there hasn’t been a decision on when or if this issue could be brought before the commission.