As Louisville looks for new home for 2 controversial monuments, one town sees spike in tourism

As confederate statue debate rages, one KY town gets tourism boom
The plaque is near the statue. (Source: WAVE 3 News)
The plaque is near the statue. (Source: WAVE 3 News)
The statues of both Prentice and Castleman were vandalized in Louisville before the decision to move them. (Source: WAVE 3 News)
The statues of both Prentice and Castleman were vandalized in Louisville before the decision to move them. (Source: WAVE 3 News)

BRANDENBURG, KY (WAVE) - It's an emotionally charged debate. On one side, people claim statues from the Civil War Era preserve history, while others claim they memorialize racist ideals.

Two monuments in Louisville will be moved after a yearlong discussion of their place in the community.

Confederate officer and President of the Board of Park Commissioners John Breckinridge Castleman's statue will be removed from the Cherokee Triangle neighborhood.

The George Dennison Prentice statue, now housed outside the downtown Louisville Free Public Library, will also be relocated.

A confederate statue that was removed from the University of Louisville in 2016 found a new home in Meade County.

The move has brought new life to Brandenburg, where the John Hunt Morgan statue was resurrected in 2017.

"This is just like beyond our wildest dreams all the people that come," Deb Masterson, with Meade County Tourism, said.

Masterson said it's hard to count how many people have visited the John Hunt Morgan statue, but she said there is development along the riverfront like public art and an RV park for the tourists who visit.

"All of that has come about because of that monument coming to Brandenburg," Masterson said. "It just peaked interest."

Another big investment to the city -- a history museum.

Many in the community believe in the draw of the monument and donated to the museum. Creating the museum cost around $5,000, because the structure was donated.

"I think it's incumbent on museums to not guild the lily and not to explain only one side, but to explain and to show," Gerald Fischer, President of the Meade County Historical Society, said.

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Fischer said while the museum contains more than civil war history, it gives context to the controversial monument.

In Louisville, Mayor Greg Fischer said placing the Castleman and Prentice statues at Cave Hill Cemetery re-examines history. If the monuments aren't able to be relocated to the cemetery, they could go into storage.

"It should stay out in the open so that we can talk about it," Masterson said. "If those monuments go away we can pretend that never happened."

Meade County Officials said they would probably not take in the Breckenridge or Prentice statue because they do not have any tie to Brandenburg. The city of Louisville aims to have the statues moved by the end of the year.

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