Junior League of DeKalb County drops Mary Gay name from popular wedding venueThe Junior League of DeKalb County has unanimously voted to rename the Mary Gay House in Decatur to 716 West in a stern rebuke to the "Confederate heroine." Photo by Dan Whisenhunt
This story has been updated.
Decatur, GA — The Junior League of DeKalb County has unanimously voted to rename the Mary Gay House in Decatur to 716 West in a stern rebuke to the home’s namesake “Confederate heroine.”
Gay, an author and a poet, lived in the house from 1850 to 1914, according to its historical marker. It was initially on Marshall Street, but the Junior League, which has been the house’s custodian for 40 years, moved it to West Trinity in 1979. The marker in front of the house, which will soon be taken down, says, “She is best known for her ‘Life in Dixie During the War’ which describes the Union siege of Atlanta and the tribulations of the home front.”
Those tribulations, of course, were the direct result of the South trying to preserve slavery.
Gay and her family witnessed skirmishes in Decatur from the home while hiding in the cellar. She devoted her life to preserving Confederate battlefields and raised money for Confederate monuments, according to the sources linked in her Wikipedia page.
The Junior League of DeKalb County helps train professional women interested in public service. Spokesperson Angela Chambliss told Decaturish the decision was not a hard one for the League.
“It’s a historical moment because as you can imagine the current name, the Mary Gay House, is a nod to a Confederate heroine, and we’ve changed the name to be more inclusive to the diversity, equity and inclusion of our league and the face of our league,” Chambliss said.
Chambliss said the house’s new motto is being a place to “celebrate, serve and support.”
“We are actually changing the marker,” Chambliss said about the business sign in front of the home. “We are hopeful the marker will be changed by our unveiling, which will be held next Tuesday.”
The Junior League later said that the 2019 Confederate Preservation legislation prevents them from removing the historical marker.
The home is a popular wedding venue, hosting anywhere from 20 to 50 weddings a year, Chambliss said.
Correction: An earlier version of this story stated the historical marker would be changed. The Junior League later clarified they were speaking about the business sign.
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