The John Breckinridge Castleman statue in Cherokee Triangle the morning after it was vandalized with paint in 2017 | Photo by Joe Sonka

Removal of the John B. Castleman statue from Cherokee Triangle will be up for debate yet again when the Historic Landmarks and Preservation Districts Commission convenes Thursday morning.

Because the statue is located in the Cherokee Triangle Preservation District, the city was forced to procure a certificate of appropriateness to remove the statue. However, a tie vote by the Cherokee Triangle Architectural Review Committee in January, due to committee by-laws, meant failure of the certificate’s approval.

This result led the city to appeal the decision, with the petition to be heard at 9 a.m. Thursday in a special meeting of the Historic Landmarks and Preservation Districts Commission. The meeting will be held in the Old Jail Auditorium, 514 W. Liberty Street.

The statue was vandalized in August 2017, which led the city to extensively study the feasibility of removing the statue depicting Confederate soldier John Breckinridge Castleman based on connotations of racism. The statue has since been vandalized numerous times.

Metro Louisville’s appeal of the architectural review committee’s decision is based on assertions the city had complied with the required guidelines in applying for the certificate of appropriateness. Calling the 3-3 vote and ultimate default judgment that the certificate would be denied “clearly erroneous,” the city said the review committee “failed to identify any applicable guidelines that were not satisfied” in its reasoning for the vote.

Records from the January vote show that comments made by committee members who voted not to approve the application to remove the statue and its plinth cited primarily historic and neighborhood-related reasons rather than reasons the certificate of appropriateness did not meet guidelines.

The committee chair Michael Gross went on record as saying the statue is “part of the fabric of the park now,” and was quoted at the time of the vote that he was “walking a very thin line on both sides.”

The city’s appeal is to overturn the decision, citing legal precedent that any decision by an administrative agency must be based on the facts presented and must be supported by “substantial evidence.”

“Cherokee Triangle ARC fails to provide any reason much less any evidence to support its decision to deny the application,” the appeal states. “The conclusion reached by the Cherokee Triangle ARC is wholly unsupported by any evidence.”

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Kevin Gibson
Kevin Gibson tackles the 3Rs — retail, restaurants, real estate — plus, economic development. He loves bacon, loathes cucumbers and once interviewed Yoko Ono. Check out his books, “Louisville Beer: Derby City History on Draft” and “100 Things to do in Louisville Before You Die.” He has won numerous awards for his work but doesn’t know where most of them are now. In his spare time, he plays in a band called the Uncommon Houseflies.Email Kevin at [email protected]