Completely Kentucky Wiki

John B. Castleman Monument.jpg

The John B. Castleman Monument, within the Cherokee Triangle of Louisville, Kentucky, was unveiled on November 8, 1913. The model, selected from a competition to which numerous sculptors contributed, was designed by R. Hinton Perry of New York. The statue was erected to honor John Breckinridge Castleman at a cost of $15,000 by popular subscription from city, state, and other commonwealths. The statue is made of bronze, and rests on a granite pedestal. It stands 15-feet high, with a base of 12×20 feet. The monument was placed on the National Register of Historic Places on July 17, 1997, as part of the Civil War Monuments of Kentucky MPS.

The Kentucky historical marker near the base of the statue reads, on one side, "John B. Castleman - Soldier. Castleman, one of Morgan's men, led attempt in 1864 to free CSA prisoners at Camp Morton. He was imprisoned until the end of the war, exiled, then pardoned by President Johnson. A native of Fayette Co., he came here in 1867. Colonel, Louisville Legion, 1st Regt., Ky. State Guard, reorganized in 1878. Served with 1st Regt. as Brigadier General in Puerto Rico, 1898-99." The other side reads, "John B. Castleman-Citizen - After the Civil War, Castleman studied law and graduated from University of Louisville in 1868. Known as Father of Louisville Park System, he was responsible for Cherokee, Shawnee, Iroquois, and Central parks. Castleman also organized and was president of American Saddle Horse Assn., 1892. Appointed Adjutant General by both governors Knott and Beckham."

Castleman served as a Confederate officer during the American Civil War, a U.S. Army officer in charge of the Louisville Legion, and fought in the Spanish–American War.

He founded the American Saddlebred Horse Association and served as its president for almost 25 years. The horse which Castleman rides on the statue was based on his beloved mare, Carolina. His most familiar appearance in Louisville, either at the head of the Louisville Legion or pursuant of his labors as president of the Board of Park Commissioners, was on the back of a five-gaited horse. Only this monument and the John Hunt Morgan Memorial in Lexington, Kentucky are Civil War monuments in Kentucky with equestrians.

Due to his work in developing Louisville's park system, including serving as president of the Louisville Board of Park Commissioners, Castleman became known as the father of the Louisville Park System. He helped create multiple parks, donated land for Cherokee Park, and sold half of his estate to develop Tyler Park. However, Castleman was vocal about and in favor of segregation of the parks he helped create.

On the night of August 12-13, 2017, the statue and the historical marker near it were defaced with red paint. The statue was defaced again in February 2018 and a third time in April 2018. At the request of Mayor Greg Fischer, Louisville's Commission on Public Art created the Public Arts and Monuments Advisory Committee which held forums to develop recommendations for handling public artworks that “honored bigotry, racism and/or slavery.” The committee made public a draft of their report in June 2018, stating that "A bronze figure towering above a city street gives the impression that the city celebrates the entire life of the figure depicted..." and "Removal is the best option when it is no longer possible to reconcile the monument’s message with the values of the city." The final report is expected to be delivered by the end of June 2018, after which time Mayor Fischer will determine the fate of the monument.