Give us Liberty! Statue returned to City Hall: Community invited to celebration on July 4th
Celebrate Independence Day and celebrate liberty... Lady Liberty that is! The Statue of Liberty given to the City on February 13, 1950 has been returned to its original home on the front lawn of Colorado Springs City Hall. A dedication celebration is planned at City Hall (107 N. Nevada Ave.) on Monday, July 4 at 2 p.m. The public is invited to attend the celebration, which will include patriotic music and the installation of a new time capsule into the base of the statue.
The statue has returned to City Hall thanks to the hard work and dedication of the Platte Avenue Business & Neighborhood Association led by President Stephanie L. B. Johnson, with the help of the Eastlake Neighbors President "Mac" McCaffrey, who started the project, "Give us Liberty! Return the Statue to City Hall" back in 2003.
"We are proud to bring the Statue of Liberty back to its original home," says Stephanie Johnson. "This is a piece of Colorado Springs history that needed to be saved. We're proud that our neighborhood association was able to take on such a meaningful and large project and get it done without public funds."
The Statue of Liberty was originally given to the citizens of Colorado Springs by a troop of Boy Scouts as part of the Scout's national effort to "Strengthen the Arm of Liberty." The Statue was placed in front of City Hall on February 13, 1950.
In 1999-2000, City Hall underwent restoration and the statue was taken down. There is some argument over whether the base was knocked down by a construction crew or if Boy Scout representatives damaged it enough in an effort to find the time capsule for the Scouts' 50th anniversary that it had to be torn down. Nevertheless, the original time capsule is missing.
After a time, the Statue was painted with brown car paint and installed in a concrete-filled planter in front of the Police Operations Center (POC) downtown. Soon the paint started to peel off.
Johnson and McCaffrey circulated petitions throughout Colorado Springs and obtained 300 signatures of citizens wanting the statue returned to City Hall. City Council approved the plans.
Colorado Springs Architect, J. B. (Johnny) Johnson, A.I.A., designed the statue's new base, which was approved by the Colorado Springs Arts Commission and the Historical Preservation Committee, and oversaw its construction as a donation to the citizens of Colorado Springs.Because the statue was in such poor condition, Matt Mayberry, Director of the Colorado Springs Pioneers Museum, arranged to have it removed from the POC and sent to a curator in Fort Collins for restoration.
Between 2003 and 2010, bids were received from numerous contractors to construct the project, but Johnson and McCaffrey decided that somehow the base would be constructed as a donation to the community and its citizens.
They found a way when Rick Johnson, Founder of the The Career Building Academy, a newly-formed school whose purpose is to teach students a trade, volunteered to construct the base as a class project and find companies willing to donate materials. Most of the work on the base was done at the headquarters of The Career Building Academy. Finally, in the spring of 2011, the base was ready for placement in front of City Hall. Thirty-one students from The Career Building Academy participated in the project with instructors Randy Reid, Jeff Johnson and Gary Bechtel.Additional thanks to:
· Rocky Mountain Premix for donating all of the concrete for the project;
· Diaz Construction Inc. for donating the use of a crane and crane operator for the project;
· Attorney Kenneth P. Myers for donating his time and expertise to this endeavor; and
· Matthias Bober, craftsman, for donating his time and skill to fabricate the new time capsule which will include a Boy Scout bolo from 1950 showing the Statue of Liberty with "Strengthening the Arm of Liberty" inscribed on it.
Funds derived from donations to the statue project which are not used will be placed in a community trust fund and utilized for the perpetual care of the statue.
For more information, contact Stephanie Johnson at 339-7171 or 473-5653.
# # #