‘My concern is my Grandfather’s legacy’: Marvel grandson reacts to confederate flag controversy in Georgetown

Confederate Flag
Confederate flag that flies on the grounds of the Marvel Museum in Georgetown. Tom Marvel, grandson of the museum's founder Nutter D. Marvel.

GEORGETOWN, Del. – Calls for the confederate flag to come down from a local museum in Georgetown continue with the grandson of the museum’s founder speaking out, saying if the Georgetown Historical Society doesn’t take it down the family wants the museum’s name to change.

Tom Marvel, the grandson of Nutter D. Marvel who founded the Marvel Carriage Museum back in 1968, tells 47 ABC’s Rob Petree that the confederate flag does not represent their family’s wishes. Now, more than 50 years after its founding, the museum is embroiled in controversy over the flag flying on the grounds where Nutter and his family once lived.

“My concern is my grandfather’s legacy,” explained Tom Marvel. “My grandfather left it as a horse and carriage museum. A confederate flag and confederate monument, it’s just not something he would’ve let go out there.”

The land and buildings at the Marvel Museum were gifted to the Georgetown Historical Society (GHS) by the Estate of Nutter D. Marvel Sr. in the winter of 1996. At that time, there were several historic buildings that had been moved and restored by Marvel with the help of the Historical Society on the museum grounds.

For years, local civil rights organizations, elected officials, and concerned citizens have called for the confederate flag, which flies on the grounds of the Marvel Museum, to be taken down. The Delaware Grays’ Sons of Confederate Veterans (SCV) installed the monument where the confederate flag flies outside the museum back in 2007.

The controversy surrounding the flag was revived this summer when the Georgetown Town Council voted to approve thousands of dollars in taxpayer funding for the museum.

“Take it down,” Tom Marvel said when asked what words he had for the Georgetown Historical Society. “I don’t think it serves a purpose as far as the racial issue is concerned. It’s just a detriment to the county as a whole.”

If action isn’t taken by the historical society, Marvel tells us he has a different demand in mind.

“If it’s not taken down in some sort of reasonable time, we as a family will consider asking them to have our grandfather’s name taken off of the place because he wouldn’t want it there,” Tom Marvel said emphatically. “It’s not what my grandfather would have wanted.”

47 ABC News has reached out to the Historical Society multiple times for comment on the matter with no response.

The Georgetown Historical Society did release a statement about a month ago refusing to take the flag down:

“The GHS intends to keep its word to SCV, particularly on the choice of flags to adorn the Memorial, and call on all citizens of good character and good faith to commit to the environment of unity, pluralism, and tolerance demonstrated at the unveiling on May 12, 2007, allowing those who chose to honor their dead to do so with respect for their election, all in furtherance of the advancement of education and history that defines the noble object of GHS.”

Their statement was released on the heels of the ignited controversy that has been a topic of discussion for years in the Georgetown community. In July, the Georgetown Town Council approved over $24,000 to pay for repairs at the museum, a move that outraged some residents who argue the organization should receive no public funding unless they take down a confederate flag that flies on the grounds.

Late last month, pressure mounted against elected officials in the Town of Georgetown after concerned citizens and members of the Central Delaware NAACP turned out to condemn council members over their decision to fund the museum.

Both the Central Delaware NAACP and the Southern Delaware Alliance for Racial Justice have stated they are exploring potential lawsuits as it relates to the Town of Georgetown’s handling of approving the funding.

Multiple calls to Georgetown Historical Society President Jim Bowden have went unanswered.

This is a developing story and 47 ABC News will release more information as it becomes available. 

Categories: Delaware, Local News, Local Politics