A longtime state Capitol figure is expected to be removed from the state Capitol and exiled to the Old State House, but a little known commission has more questions for lawmakers.
“John Mason was the architect of the Pequot massacre that happened in the 1600s,” Sen. Cathy Osten, D-Sprague, said.
Mason, one of the founders of Connecticut, led the infamous attack against the Eastern Pequots in Mystic in 1637 killing nearly 500 Native Americans and enslaving others.
Osten says the state budget allocated $15,000 to remove the eight-foot-tall statue from the Capitol and move it to the Old State House.
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The state Capitol Preservation and Restoration Commission wants an opportunity to weigh in.
A commission member says it was the impetus of one lawmaker and she worries about what happens next.
“I’m concerned about the future and where we’re headed and what our role is going to be,” Mary Finnegan said.
The commission feels it should be able to make a recommendation to the legislature. They also fear it will lead to more statues being removed.
“Historic preservation of history can’t be changed just because somebody doesn’t like the moment,” Bill Morgan, another commission member, said.
State Historian Walter Woodward described Mason as a complex character who committed atrocities but he said, ”without his actions the state of Connecticut, the colony of Connecticut, might have ceased to exist.”
Woodard said he worries what happens when people project present values into the past.
“The reason the state of Connecticut honored him through those centuries is because at a moment of great peril for this fledgling colony that was facing starvation and surrounded by enemies he was the great risk taker,” Woodward said.
“John Mason attacked women and children and slaughtered women, children and elders who were in Mystic at a fort,” Osten said.
The Office of Legislative Management plans to go out to bid on Monday for removal of the statue.
“The intent on removing the statue is to put historical context to John Mason and remove it to the Old State House,” Osten said.