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Fine art expert says Confederate monument relocation would cost around $40,000

The Confederate monument committee listened to two speakers during its Thursday morning meeting in the Courthouse on the Square, including a fine art expert who said the statue's relocation would cost Denton County about $40,000.

Glenn Nerwin, owner of Nerwin and Martin Art Consultant, said the statue's disassembly, transportation and reassembly also would take about a week to complete. His company specializes in art transportation, storage, installation and packing, among other fine art services. 

"Forty thousand dollars is probably an overestimate, but it depends on how much conservation work is included in that," Nerwin said after his presentation. "There's just too many variables at this point to really pin it down."

Thursday's meeting, which took place in the 1896 Room in the courthouse, was the committee's final gathering before its members vote on a recommendation for the statue next Thursday. 

Committee chairman John Baines said the 15 committee members will spend as much time as necessary during the next meeting in the 1896 Room to reach a consensus on the issue. He has previously said they have two options: moving the monument to another location or keeping it with additional historical context. County commissioners then will vote on the committee's proposal. 

Nerwin was one of two speakers during Thursday's meeting.  Sheila Randolph, an African-American defense attorney from Fort Worth and a member of the United Daughters of the Confederacy, spoke in favor of keeping the monument at its current location on the south side of the courthouse lawn. 

The  local chapter of the Daughters of the Confederacy erected the Denton statue in 1918. Randolph, who emphasized she wasn't speaking on behalf of the Daughters of the Confederacy, also described herself as an amateur genealogist. She said her great-great-great grandfather joined the Confederate Army at 15 years old, and she doesn't feel offended by a statue that some feel represents racism. 

"Before I joined the [United Daughters of the Confederacy], I would see something like this statue— it would say 'Confederate' — and I would say, 'Thank you, Dr. [Martin Luther King Jr.], that now I'm free," Randolph said.  

Baines said the members asked Nerwin to come to the meeting to give them a general understanding of the costs associated with the statue's removal.  

About two years ago, Michael Hunt, owner of a San Antonio-based restoration company, told the Denton Record-Chronicle the relocation process would cost around $15,000. Nerwin said his estimate includes further repairs to the existing structure, which needs some maintenance, he said. 

According to two recent structural reviews by JQ Engineering, the nearly 100-year-old monument is in "generally good structural condition" but slightly leans 2.5 degrees to the south. The lean, the report said, is likely due to natural movement in the ground's clay over time. 

Portions of the granite structure are cracked and chipped. Some small pieces, such as a stone ball on the west side of the monument, are missing, the report said.  

Nerwin took these details into account, but said it's still impossible to compare prices without actually taking it apart piece by piece. 

"There are a lot of different levels to it," he said. 

During the meeting, Baines prepared committee members for next week's meeting by unveiling his personal proposal: a replacement statue for all Denton County soldiers who have died in any war. 

He presented a small Styrofoam version of the statue, which included a space where all the soldiers' names would be. His proposal said it would be installed where the Confederate monument currently sits. 

After the meeting, most committee members attended the final public forum for the monument Thursday evening at the Copeland Government Center in Cross Roads. 

JULIAN GILL can be reached at 940-566-6882. 

FEATURED PHOTO: Glenn Nerwin, owner of Nerwin & Martin Art Consultant, center, told members of the Confederate monument committee Thursday that it would cost about $40,000 to move the statue from the Courthouse on the Square lawn. Nerwin was one of two speakers at the committee's meeting in the 1896 Room of the Denton County Courthouse on the Square. Jeff Woo/DRC