By Steve Bittenbender
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (Reuters) - A Louisville, Kentucky, monument honoring Confederate soldiers will be moved to a nearby town, city officials said on Tuesday, the latest move to take down or relocate memorials to those who fought for the slaveholding Southern Confederacy during the American Civil War.
Workers in Kentucky's most populous city will next week begin dismantling the 121-year-old memorial from its location adjacent to the University of Louisville. Later this month, work will start on restoring the 70-foot-tall structure in the town of Brandenburg, officials said.
Brandenburg, about 45 miles (72 km) southwest of Louisville, is where Confederate General John Hunt Morgan crossed the Ohio River into Indiana in 1863 as part of his raid into northern territory during the Civil War.
Louisville officials chose to move the monument there because Brandenburg, which hosts a biennial Civil War re-enactment, plans to place it in a prominent spot along the river.
“This new location provides an opportunity to remember and respect our history in a more proper context,” Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer said in a statement. “And it’s close enough that Louisvillians can visit.”
The move will come about seven months after Fischer and then-University of Louisville President James Ramsey announced their intention to take down the monument, which had long been considered controversial at the school. In recent years, students and staff raised concerns that the memorial condoned slavery.
The announcement also came during a period when other communities were considering removing Confederate symbols as critics considered the displays as fostering racism.
Kentucky, the birthplace of both U.S. President Abraham Lincoln and Confederate President Jefferson Davis, was a slave state but did not join the Confederacy. But many Kentucky residents fought for the south.
The monument was given to the city of Louisville in 1895 to commemorate the Kentuckians who fought and died in the 1861-1865 war.
Earlier this year, a Louisville judge rejected a bid by opponents of the monument's relocation to keep it in its current location.
Louisville’s Commission on Public Art then began holding public meetings to determine a more appropriate location for the memorial, which is when Brandenburg officials expressed interest.
Fischer said Brandenburg officials were expected to approve the move in a vote on Wednesday.
(Editing by Sharon Bernstein and Peter Cooney)