Say goodbye to Wade Hampton Drive, because by July, the name will be a relic like Jefferson Davis Highway.
The Vienna Town Council voted unanimously after a public hearing last night (Monday) to rename the Maple Avenue side street Liberty Lane, removing the moniker of Confederate Lt. Gen. Wade Hampton III.
The council also decided to reimburse the residents living along the road for the issues the renaming will cause and set a date for when the changeover will be complete.
The consensus among the Wade Hampton residents who spoke at the public hearing was that while a name change would be disruptive, requiring them to file address changes with various governmental and business entities, they understood and supported the move.
“It was a wrong done many years ago, and the Town of Vienna has to take some blame for it, and it should be righted,” Wade Hampton resident Sharon Pott said of naming a street after Hampton.
Identifying herself as a resident of Wade Hampton for close to 42 years, Pott said she supports renaming the road but noted that “it’s going to require quite a lot of effort on everybody’s part.”
Several Wade Hampton residents advocated for changing the name to Roland Street, which would connect it to an existing road in the neighborhood, but others objected to that name as well.
DeArmond Carter, a member of the nonprofit Historic Vienna who initiated the push to rename Wade Hampton Drive, expressed opposition to the potential namesake of the road, J.B. Roland, saying he held racist views and sympathies to the Confederacy.
“Continuing Roland Street would be an insult to Vienna’s African American community,” she said, recommending that the road instead take her family’s name in recognition of their 160-year history in the community.
Other residents preferred Liberty Lane as the replacement, citing the Town of Vienna’s role in getting Virginia to ratify Liberty Amendments Month as an annual celebration.
With the unanimously approved motion, the town council agreed that residents living on that road should be reimbursed $500 for the inconvenience, and that the changeover should go into effect on July 4.
“I didn’t want to go too cheap and I didn’t want to make it look like we were paying the residents off to make the change,” Councilmember Chuck Anderson said when some council members questioned the amount of the reimbursement. “I wanted to have a number that would start a conversation. It’s going to take time to find out what needs to be done to make the transition of changing the name.”
City staff will work with residents over the next four months to help them with the change.
Photo via Google Maps
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As Fairfax County moves to rename two major highways, efforts to reexamine the names of landmarks referencing the country’s racist past are making their way to the Town of Vienna.
The Vienna Town Council is slated to vote Monday (Jan. 24) to schedule a public hearing on possibly renaming Wade Hampton Drive, a small neighborhood street southwest of Maple Avenue.
The council was scheduled to vote on Jan. 3, but the meeting got canceled by snow. Town public information officer Karen Thayer told Tysons Reporter that the public hearing will likely be set for Feb. 7.
The town adopted the name in the 1960s in reference to Wade Hampton III, a lieutenant general for the Confederacy who later worked against Reconstruction efforts and raised money for the Ku Klux Klan. He served as governor of South Carolina for two years after a notoriously corrupt election.
If the council eventually approves a name change, it’s unclear what the replacement will be. The small street contains just four residences, a dentist’s office, and the Sunrise assisted living facility that’s now under construction.
Vienna Mayor Linda Colbert formed an ad hoc committee last year to study the issue and propose a new name. The committee consisted of two property owners on the street and two members of the nonprofit Historic Vienna, which operates the Freeman Store and Museum and the Little Library Museum.
After meeting in March, April, and May, the group recommended changing Wade Hampton Drive’s name but couldn’t reach a consensus on what it should be called instead.
One proposal was to use Roland Street, which would extend an existing road that links Wade Hampton to Nutley Street. Other suggestions included Carter Lane or Drive, Mildred Lane (or variants of Mildred Drive or Loving Drive), Liberty Lane, and Minor Drive.
According to documents from the committee, at least one member expressed opposition to Roland Street in a June 1 letter to the mayor and council:
Many of my Great Aunts and Uncles spoke about J.B. Roland was a Confederate sympathizer and a racist. As I have learned from my Grandparents and father that ‘Old Man Roland’ supported the Confederacy and he was a Confederate soldier.
Roland Street was not listed in the Fairfax County History Commission’s Confederate names inventory.
The committee’s two Historic Vienna members — DeArmond Carter and Gloria Runyon — advocated for Carter Drive or Lane in recognition of their ancestors, the Carter family, who have lived in Vienna since 1859 and counted a Union spy and major landowners among their members.
Alex Gallegos, a resident on the affected street, raised concerns that committee members proposing a street name to highlight their own family could create conflicts of interest.
The four families on the affected street said that, if Roland Street is ruled out, they would favor a reference to Mildred Jeter and Richard Loving, the couple behind the Supreme Court case that legalized interracial marriages nationwide.
Photo via Google Maps