A black Union soldier’s Civil War memorial, nicknamed ‘Clayton,’ at a local park is going under construction.
In October 2020 the city of Fort Myers shut down Centennial Park for a make-over. 21 months later, the work continues and Liz Bello Matthews, a spokesperson, explained. “Centennial Park is really coming along we are very excited about the fact that we are almost done,” Matthews said.
When pressed for an end date Matthews wouldn’t say. But, a milestone will still happen on Friday. The USCT second regiment monument will be lifted and turned around to face the Caloosahatchee.
“Right now the team is getting the space ready the ground has been dug up there’s preparations for a crescent-shaped sidewalk to be installed,” Matthews said.
The soldier’s framed standing before a gate within a wall. The gate is meant to symbolize freedom from slavery and memorializes the 179,000 African Americans who served in the Union Army during the Civil War, representing 10% of the Union’s overall fighting force. The inscription notes how USCT troops freed more than a thousand slaves who worked the fields in this part of the south.
“We are really excited that we will finally have this space everyone has been asking and waiting for it, so it’s almost here we can’t wait for that day to come,” Matthews said.
When all is said and done, the total cost of the renovations to Centennial Park will be more than $3,000,000.