Dick Dowling statue removed from Hermann Park ahead of Juneteenth celebrations

The statue of a Confederate commander that has stood in Houston for more than a century was removed from it’s place in Hermann Park Wednesday afternoon.

HOUSTON – The statue of a Confederate commander that has stood in Houston for more than a century was removed from it’s place in Hermann Park on Wednesday afternoon.

The monument to Robert “Dick” Dowling was erected in 1905 and is located at the Cambridge Street entrance to the park. It was the first publicly funded monument in the city.

RIGHT NOW: crews work to remove Dick Dowling statue at entrance of Hermann Park

Posted by KPRC2 Jonathan Martinez on Wednesday, June 17, 2020

Dowling gained notoriety for his role in recapturing Galveston and defeating a Union invasion force during the Battle of Sabine Pass in 1863. Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner said he wants to relocate the Dowling statue to the Sabine Pass Battleground State Historic Site in Port Arthur, Texas. That plan was placed in limbo, however, after the Texas Historical Commission delayed Friday’s vote on accepting the statue at the site.

A statue called the “Spirit of the Confederacy” was removed from Sam Houston Park late Tuesday night.

Turner has said that statue will eventually be moved to the Houston Museum of African-American Culture, where it will be viewed as a historical artifact and seen in the appropriate context. Not everyone is happy with that plan, though.

Turner has said both statues will go into storage until a better place can be found to display them in the appropriate context.

Turner pledged to remove both statues before June 19, which is also known as Juneteenth. It marks the date in 1865 when word of the Emancipation Proclamation was received in Galveston.

Several people gathered Wednesday to watch as the statue was taken down. Many of them saying it’s a part of history they’d rather not see so prominently displayed.

“I’m just observing a dark part of our history being removed from the city of Houston,” said Derek Blaylock.

“I just think it does reflect our current morality, people just rejecting racism,” said Houston resident Donald Hayes. “These were put up as insults to black people.”

“What’s happening now is probably the right thing for it,” said Houston historian Mister McKinney. “It is a part of Houston history, but like I said he was put up for a reason and for that reason alone and should be taken down.”

About the Authors:

Aaron Barker has been a senior digital editor at KPRC 2 since 2016. As a meteorologist, he specializes in stories about the weather. He has covered Hurricane Harvey, the Astros first World Series win, the Santa Fe High School shooting, the ITC fire and Tropical Storm Imelda.

Reporter, family-oriented, sports fanatic, proud Houstonian.