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Va. Capitol Square Will House Women’s Monument

By Rosaland Tyler

Associate Editor

New Journal and Guide


You still have time to submit a nomination to the Voices from the Garden Monument, a project in Richmond that aims to highlight the achievements of women in Virginia.

While 12 women were selected last year during Women’s History Month, nominations will be accepted until Jan. 1. Launched by the Women’s Monument Commission, which has already raised about 10 percent of the funds needed for the $3.7 million monument, the project will feature 12 bronze, life-size statues and interactive sites. Scheduled to be constructed by 2017, the monument will include the names of at least 180 more accomplished women.

“We are in the throes of raising the money to make the monument a reality,” said Alice Lynch, executive director. “We are in what is called the quiet phase of fundraising.”

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“We are asking the public to nominate women,” Lynch said. “They must have completed their legacy which means they are no longer with us. This monument will educate, honor, and inspire. That is its intention. We owe it to our visitors to Capitol Square.”

“In a perfect world, I think it is reasonable to expect the monument to be completed by the end of 2017 but major projects like this do take time,” Lynch said. “So that’s our goal. I have been very impressed with how the commission has moved through this process in a deliberate and slow manner as it should.”

The commission has 19 members including two senators, two delegates, the clerks of the House and Senate, the librarian of Virginia, the executive director of the Virginia Capitol Foundation, the executive director of the Capitol Square Preservation Council, the secretary of administration, and eight appointed citizens: three appointed by the governor, two by the Senate Committee on Rules and three by the speaker of the House. Five members are non-voting, ex officio members.

Now, meet some of the women from four centuries who will gather in the garden: From the 17th century, Cockacoeske, chief in her own right of the Pamunkey, an astute and skillful politician who gathered other tribes under her rule and signed the Treaty of the Middle Plantation in 1677; Ann Burras Laydon, a brave young girl who arrived in Jamestown as a maid, survived the Starving Time, celebrated the first marriage in the New World and gave birth to the first child in Jamestown Settlement.

Eighteenth-century women include Mary Draper Ingles, a Virginia frontierswoman who was captured by the Shawnee, taken to Ohio, escaped and made her way home; Martha Washington, the first lady of the United States, who graciously hosted weekly public receptions at the presidential mansion; and Clementina Rind, publisher of the Virginia Gazette in Williamsburg who was named “printer of the colony” by the House of Burgesses in 1774.

From the 19th century the commission selected Sarah Boyd Jones, a physician who was the first African-American woman to pass the medical examination; Sally Louisa Tompkins, who ran a private hospital in Richmond during the Civil War that had the lowest mortality rate of any military hospital; and Elizabeth Keckly, a slave later freed who became dressmaker and confidante of Mary Lincoln and was also an author.

Finally, women from the 20th century are Maggie Walker, entrepreneur, president of a bank, and a civil rights leader from Richmond; Adele Goodman Clark, artist, suffragist, and chair of the Virginia League of Women Voters; Laura Lu Copenhaver from Smyth County, a college faculty member who wrote fiction and poetry and advanced southwestern Virginia’s agricultural economy; and Virginia Estelle Randolph, an educator who became the first Jeanes Supervisor Industrial Teacher and founded the Randolph School, a high school for African-American children in Henrico County.

Others were considered but commission members decided these women had exceptional stories and places in Virginia history. Their stories will provide an amazing learning experience for school groups and visitors to the Capitol.

For more information on the Women of Virginia, Commemorative Commission and the Monument, please visit

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