A marker commemorating the birthplace of a Confederate general in Worthington was removed last week after a recommendation from city officials.
The historical marker was installed in 2004 to commemorate Gen. Roswell Ripley, who was born in the house at 623 High St. in 1825.
The Ripley House is marked by a sign in Old Worthington, and the building has office spaces with addresses of 623 and 625. The building is privately owned by the Ripley Co., according to the Franklin County auditor's website.
The marker was purchased and placed by Sons of Confederate Veterans, a group consisting of descendants of Confederate soldiers, according to the city.
City Manager Matt Greeson said the decision to ask the Ripley Co. to remove the marker came after city leaders learned a protest was planned at the site.
According to Greeson, city officials saw on social media Aug. 17 that a protest was being organized online for Aug. 19. The purported protest came on the heels of protests and vandalism of Confederate monuments and other markers throughout the country.
In addition, city leaders did not know anything about the protesters, he said.
Greeson said he prefers a "deliberative and inclusive approach to decision-making," but he and other city officials believed they needed to move quickly.
"We assessed the situation -- both the manpower we would need to handle a protest in a tight, difficult site in our community and the likelihood for property destruction or conflict," he said. "There was a concern for the safety of residents or visitors and a concern for property destruction at or around the location of the marker ... on a very constrained site."
City leaders reached out to the Ripley Co. Greeson said the owner "understood the practical decision" and agreed to let the city remove the marker, averting the protest.
"We concluded that the marker was the flash point, and if it were removed, we would avoid a potentially difficult situation in Worthington and the disruption of a normally peaceful farmers market Saturday and avoid potential for conflict between protesters and other people," Greeson said.
But the decision was not exclusively a pragmatic one.
Greeson said city leaders, particularly those on the Worthington Community Relations Commission, already had concerns about the Confederate marker.
"They were thinking about scheduling the marker for a discussion at the CRC to reconcile (those concerns)," Greeson said. "Is this history of Roswell Ripley being born in the house there important to tell? How should it be told? Should it be told differently than it's currently told?"
In a statement, Jack Miner, chair of the CRC, said: "The Community Relations Commission plans to develop a path for community dialogue on the history of Worthington and its residents in the Civil War. As we develop strategies for engagement, it will be important to remember and acknowledge all of the roles that our community played in the war and at the same time to respect the feelings of current community members and broad implications of those historic actions."
Kate LaLonde, executive director of the Worthington Historical Society, said Ripley was "on the periphery" of Worthington history and didn't particularly affect its establishment or making it what it is today. But she said he would remain a part of the historical society's materials.
"We plan on continuing to have the biography available and maintain that history that he was born here," LaLonde said. "It's not something we plan on shying away from."
Greeson said city leaders have heard both positive and negative responses to the decision, but said most people understand the decision after it is explained. He said he hopes the CRC's continued conversations would help.
"We're hopeful that that dialogue brings a greater understanding of our history, reaffirmation of our community's values and, ultimately, a strengthening of our community," he said.