Tuesday, January 20, 2009

James Garfield statue still missing

On this inauguration day, it seems appropriate to note that Garfield Park in Indianapolis has been without the statue of its presidential namesake now for several months. The statue (shown in three photos here) had been camped in front of the park's Burrello Family Center to greet visitors since shortly after the center opened in January 1998.

Well, it was there, at least, until sometime late last summer or early fall.

I called the city parks department in September to inquire, and all I was told was that it was removed because the center of its base was decaying and had become loose. The person I spoke to said she wasn't sure whether it was going to be repaired and returned, replaced ... or permanently removed. She did say she would let me know when that could be ascertained. So far, I haven't heard anything. Again, it's been September since that conversation.

The two photos you see on top were taken in August 2006; I was concerned even then because of the serious crevice down the side of the face. The photo below, taken in February 2005 after a snowfall had moved through the area, gives some perspective of where the statue stood in relation to the Burrello center.

The likeness of the nation's 20th president was made from a single solid piece of sycamore weighing an estimated 2,000 pounds and completed in 1999 by sculptor Chie Kramer and woodcarver Dennis Maddox. According to the sculptor, the tree was alive -- and on the grounds of the park -- when Garfield was president.

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