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Confederate name removed from Henrico recreation center

Henrico’s Confederate Hills Recreation Center has been renamed The Springs Recreation Center.

At the Board of Supervisors’ June 9 meeting, Varina Supervisor Tyrone Nelson recommended changing the name of the facility, which is located on Lee Avenue in the Highland Springs area. Henrico’s other four supervisors agreed to the change, which did not require a vote.

Lettering for the new name was installed on a large brick sign in the building’s front lawn on June 10.

The name change takes place amid ongoing national and Richmond-area protests regarding police violence, systemic and historical racism and the recent killings of George Floyd in Minneapolis and other African Americans.

Nelson noted at the June 9 meeting the difficulty of having a Henrico County facility named for the Confederacy.

“Removing the names from buildings does not erase history, but it does acknowledge that it was a heinous part of the past,” he said. “It should not serve as a daily reminder of the pain and tragedy that still impact the lives of black people today.

“The very existence of the Confederacy, its economy, was founded on the enslavement of black people. If we want to move forward, we cannot continue to erect and display monuments of hate.”

The building was constructed in 1925 by the Locomotive Club of Richmond and later served as a clubhouse for employees of the American Locomotive Company. The property was purchased in 1977 by the Confederate Hills Civic and Recreation Association and was used as a private swim and racket club.

Henrico County acquired the facility in 1994 and opened it as a recreation center in 1997, retaining the Confederate Hills name. The center is popular for its regulation croquet lawn and shuffleboard courts and offers meeting rooms for rent, among other amenities.   

“The Springs” is often used as a shorthand reference for Highland Springs, Nelson said, noting that historically the community derived its name from a series of springs in the area. He described it as a “very appropriate name” for the center and added that several residents recently had suggested it as a potential new name.

The facility’s meeting rooms, which formerly had been labeled to reflect the building’s original use as a locomotive club, are being renamed as well. The new names are Empowerment Room, Justice Room and Terrace, Equity Room and Progress Pavilion.

“During these times I think there is a message that hopefully the county is OK with sending to its residents,” Nelson said. “We are trying to move forward, not backward.”   

The board’s June 9 discussion regarding the recreation center is included in this video excerpt from the meeting: https://henrico-va.granicus.com/MediaPlayer.php?view_id=2&clip_id=3082&meta_id=31182.

 
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