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Why woman canceled birthday celebration at historic Henrico rec center

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HENRICO COUNTY, Va. -- A Henrico woman has cancelled an upcoming party because she said the name of a historic Highland Springs venue is offensive.

"The building is beautiful. The staff was more than  accommodating," Jewel Shelton said. "The family and friends enjoyed their time here.”

However, Shelton said the name of the Henrico Recreation Center forced her to nix her father's 80th birthday celebration at the facility.

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Shelton said she made the decision because of the Charleston church shooting where Dylan Roof is accused of murdering nearly a dozen people at an AME Church. Photos show Roof waving a Confederate flag -- creating an aftershock of opinions.

Shelton changed her party plans after discovering the name of the Confederate Hills Recreation Center.

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"It was just too much," Shelton explained. "And to invite my mom, dad, family, friends, peers [and] persons that have suffered -- to intentionally invite them here just didn't feel right to me.”

A historical marker outside the venue indicates the building was formerly known as the Locomotive Club of Richmond, which dates back to 1925.

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WTVR CBS 6 asked Henrico County officials about the name of the facility. A spokesperson responded with the following statement:

“Henrico County Recreation and Parks acquired the facility in 1994 and adapted it for use as a recreation center. It previously had been known as the Confederate Hills Swim and Tennis Club, dating to the 1970s. The facility retained the Confederate Hills name, which is the name of the surrounding neighborhood, after the county acquired it. Other county recreation centers, such as Elko and Highland Springs, similarly take on the names of the nearby neighborhoods and communities they serve,” said Henrico County Public Relations and Media Services Assistant Director Steve Knockemus.

I love the building,” Jewel Shelton said.

I love the building,” Jewel Shelton said.

Shelton sent the county a letter explaining her rationale for cancelling the event and was grateful the county refunded her $520 deposit and rental cost.

"Very much so because we can use that money towards celebrating my dad's birthday the way that we should,” Shelton said.

Shelton plans to launch an online petition on Facebook to change the name of the recreation center.

Knockemus said this is the first reported concern over the facility's name.

 

Depend on WTVR.com and CBS 6 News for updates on this story. 

Confederate Hills Rec Center