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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 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 on the inventory of the City's outdoor public artworks, subject to a caveat that its ownership still needs to be clarified.

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.