LEXINGTON, Va. – The city of Lexington has spent the past year balancing its Confederate history with acknowledging the pain it has caused many in the community. As a part of that process, Lexington City Council recently approved the first name change for a street with a Confederate-related name.
At its August 5 meeting, council members approved changing New Market Place to Evergreen Place. New Market Place was named for the Confederate victory in the Battle of New Market during the Civil War. The street leads to Evergreen Cemetery, Lexington’s African American cemetery, which did not sit well with some community leaders and neighbors.
“That led to a conversation about the name of the street being ‘New Market Place’ and how that was just so inappropriate for the Black cemetery to be on a street named ‘New Market,’” said Marylin Alexander, Lexington’s Vice Mayor.
In April, Lexington City Council approved a renaming process that involves citizens initiating the change and requires 75% of landowners on the street to support the change. The one resident on New Market Place agreed to the renaming.
Alexander said these small changes can make a big difference.
“It opens up the door for learning more about all of Lexington’s history, not just one side but the other side of history,” Alexander said. “There are a lot of people who are buried in the cemetery here next to us that I knew personally and contributed a great deal to this community.”
Evergreen Cemetery itself is also getting upgrades and improvements community leaders and citizens had hoped for to make sure all of Lexington’s past is on display for the present and future.
“Those are the people that helped build America and helped build Lexington,” Alexander said.
As a part of the process, residents will pay the $400 fee to change the name on a street sign. The fee was waived for the renaming of New Market Place.