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The History of the Robert E. Lee Bust in Downtown Fort Myers

Mike Kiniry

We’re talking with author and historian, Tom Hall, to take a deep dive into the history of the Robert E. Lee bust that’s been on a pedestal in downtown Fort Myers since 1966. We’ll learn how it got there in the first place, and explore its uncertain future as the Fort Myers City Council has asked the city attorney for an update on resolving an ownership dispute of the bust, which activists want to be taken down permanently. The bust was temporarily removed from its pedestal on June, 2.

Tom Hall serves as the City of Fort Myers’ public art consultant. As such, his duties include advising Fort Myers’ Public Art Committee in the management of the City’s public art collection and carrying out the Committee’s resolutions and related decisions. The Robert E. Lee bust is included in the inventory of the City's outdoor public artworks, subject to a caveat that its ownership still needs to be clarified.

As a local historian and author, Tom has three books to his credit: Epic Fires of Fort Myers: How a Series of Early Fires Influenced the Town’s Development, Volumes I & II, and Female Pioneers of Fort Myers: Women Who Influenced the Town’s Development, which he co-authored with North Fort Myers author Robin Tuthill. Tom holds Bachelors, Masters and Juris Doctorate degrees from the University of Florida and is a member of the Florida Association of Public Art Professionals.

Mike Kiniry is producer of Gulf Coast Live, and co-creator and host of the WGCU podcast Three Song Stories: Biography Through Music. He first joined the WGCU team in the summer of 2003 as an intern while studying Communication at Florida Gulf Coast University. 
Julie Glenn is the News Director and the host of Gulf Coast Live. She joined the WGCU team in November of 2016 to expand the Gulf Coast Live call-in radio show from once a week to five days a week.  Since then, the show has been recognized in state and regional competitions and has featured artists, political leaders, historians, environmental experts, doctors, local reporters, and national and international scholars. After leading the station's award-winning coverage of Hurricane Irma in September of 2017, Julie was named Interim News Director. In January of 2018, she launched WGCU's first podcast: Grape Minds.