Coy Barefoot has resigned as executive director of the Albemarle-Charlottesville Historical Society.
Barefoot, a local author and media personality, was hired to the position in early 2018. Barefoot’s appointment came after the previous director’s sudden resignation following declining membership and the potential end of the society’s lease at the city-owned McIntire Building on Second Street Northeast.
Shelley Viola Murphy, chair of the society’s board of directors, has served as interim executive director since Oct. 1. Reached by phone on Monday, Murphy referred reporters to a short Facebook post from the board about the change.
“ACHS has accepted the resignation of Mr. Coy Barefoot, with appreciation for his work as Executive Director over the past 18 months as well as his contributions to our understanding of local, state, and national history over the past [three] decades,” the post stated.
Barefoot did not respond to multiple requests for comment by press time.
In 2017, during the “Summer of Hate,” the society briefly showed two Ku Klux Klan robes to the media and a few others, which then-President Steven Meeks said were donated in 1993 by a local resident who found them in a wooden crate in a shed in Charlottesville.
The society did not reveal the names of the robes’ probable owners until May 2019, when Barefoot included photos of the robes amid an exhibit called “Charlottesville’s Attic.” The society identified P.E. Wade, a delivery man, and Murray Allen, a gas station attendant, as the probable owners of the two robes.
In 2017, the Charlottesville City Council voted to extend the society’s lease for about six months, and required that the society establish “new operating procedures for better governance, performance and fiscal management that promote transparency, accountability and racial and ethnic diversity,” and allow the council to appoint a third of the membership on its board of directors.
In 2018, the city council voted to extend the organization’s lease one year as part of a probationary period.
The lease was renewed earlier this year for three years — through April 30, 2022 — with the possibility of two separate one-year renewals.
Community members who are listed on the society’s website as members of an advisory council said they did not know about Barefoot’s resignation.
Mark Brown, a local entrepreneur who is listed on the website as part of the council, said he met with Barefoot once to talk about the historical society and made a donation of less than $1,000, but has never been to any meetings.
Murphy said on Monday that Barefoot had set up the advisory council.
“They were people that he had interacted with and had conversations and things with,” she said. “They’re not an official advisory council ... folks to discuss things and plan things and they provided input to him, and things like that.”
She said the council consists of “well known people in the community who have been strong supporters of the historical society,” and added that the society could hopefully add Barefoot to the council list.
“Coy did a good job and I wish him well,” Murphy said.
The society will search for a new executive director, she said.