The idea of “light” and keeping a serene, contemplative feel to Calhoun Park were a few of the ideas tossed around at a meeting to determine what to add to the park that houses the Meriwether monument in North Augusta.
A committee entrusted by North Augusta City Council to develop a plan for additions to Calhoun Park held its second meeting last month to continue discussions.
The committee, headed by North Augusta Mayor Bob Pettit, is comprised of nine voting members.
The resolution that formed the committee concludes that the Meriwether monument should not be moved or altered and that educational features should be added around the monument that offer a counterpoint to the obelisk and include a summary of the events of the Hamburg Massacre and the names of the black men who died as a result.
The Meriwether monument memorializes Thomas McKie Meriwether, the sole white man who died during the Hamburg Massacre – also known as the Hamburg Incident and Hamburg Riot – on July 8, 1876. The marker is located in the park at Georgia and Carolina avenues.
Seven black men also died that day as a result of the riot but aren’t mentioned on the monument, a 21-foot-tall obelisk.
The committee met for the second time on June 18. Minutes from its May 13 meeting mention that member Trina Mackie shared the quote, “Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that,” by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
“(City Clerk Sharon Lamar) and I were talking the next day,” Pettit said during the meeting, “and Trina’s use of the word ‘light’ kind of struck me and her as well … as something that we can use to our benefit or the benefit of conveying something.”
Mackie said she believes that using light in some way would serve to differentiate what the committee comes up with from what is currently in the park.
Committee member Charles Allen echoed that, saying he doesn’t think they would want to add anything that looks too busy.
“You still want it to look serene, you still want it to look like it’s peaceful. Something that you can go down and sit on a bench and read,” Allen said.
The committee also discussed ideas around how to run a contest. A design contest has been proposed for that actual structure or structures that are added to the park.
Pettit said he has been working on texts that could go with the additions as well as finding out who in the state could vet text that is added to make sure it is factually correct.
The meeting was held at Lookaway Hall – a historic home now serving as an inn – directly adjacent to the park. Following the meeting, present committee members took a tour of the park.
Committee members Pettit, Mackie, Allen, John Felak and David McGhee were present.
At the end of the meeting, Mackie thanked Pettit for taking action regarding the obelisk.
Pettit said “Somebody told me that it has been talked about before and we don’t need to talk about it anymore.”
Mackie responded, “Talk definitely is cheap, so it’s time to do something.”