Independent Man — Come On Down

The Independent Man statue will soon be leaving his perch atop the dome of the State House. A recent drone survey of the building revealed two pretty substantial gaps developing beneath his feet in the dome of the lantern. But they aren’t the result of normal weathering. From the ProJo:

Video from a drone inspecting the upper reaches of the State House Tuesday revealed two gaps, like slices removed from a cake, in the domed marble platform that the Independent Man stands on. [See photo at the ProJo.]

State Director of Administration Jonathan Womer said it is not clear how the platform was damaged, but the gaps do not appear to have been caused by normal aging and were not visible eight months ago.

“This really does look like it was an event that happened rather than slow progress,” Womer said. “We have drone footage from January when we started the cleaning project and no damage was apparent at that time … “

The drone scans are all part of the $2.2 million cleaning and restoration project of the State House exterior, and boy, does that white Georgia marble ever need a cleaning. And conservators can get a good look at the statue while he’s down. The Governor promises that during the repair work the Independent Man statue will be put on public display somewhere, details to come. Maybe then we can get the measure of this guy. The ProJo article has him at 11 feet tall, but Freeman and Lasky write in “Hidden Treasure: Public Sculpture in Providence” that the statue measures 14 feet. They may have included the bronze drum on which he stands.

Architects McKim, Mead & White were given the final say in what the statue would represent. The Rhode Island Historical Society had pushed for a statue of Roger Williams, but Charles McKim declared “that no one knew what Roger Williams really looked like* and that any such figure placed that high would appear to be ‘a bunch of pantaloons, jacket and hat.'”

The capitol commissioners went with the more classically conceived figure, writing that, “He was symbolic of a man standing forth in all the native strength and freedom of his original creation, and girt only with a lion’s hide, the king of beasts by man subdued.”

Yeah, the pantaloons were never going to happen.

So who modeled for the original sculptor? This piece in Quahog rings true: “Hi Dad!” I want it to be true.

You can visit a replica of our noble lion-tamer in front of the food court at the Warwick Mall.

*The face of the Williams statue down at Roger Williams University was based on Red Sox slugger Ted Williams.

Piles of scaffolding have been unloaded. On Friday workers suggested that the plucking off of the statue might happen Monday . . . it all depends on the weather.

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