If we did some ‘googling’ to find the oldest, still living, Colorado Springs native, we might find … well, let’s just call her ‘Alice’. ‘Alice is, say, 97 years old with a very keen memory. We might ask her to take a jaunt around the Colorado Springs downtown area and tell us about all the things that have changed from when she was a little girl. ‘Alice’ might say, “It would be easier to tell you about what remains the same after all these years.”
‘Alice’ takes us over to the intersection of Platte and Nevada Avenues, and proudly boasts of one of our city’s last remaining historical finds … the masterpiece and centerpiece of the downtown area; the William Jackson Palmer Equestrian Statue.
Here, standing in its original location, is the city-owned effigy of our founding father. The foundation and base were installed in 1926, but the statue itself was not mounted in place until 1929.
Some little-known facts (taken from the COLORADO CULTURAL RESOURCE SURVEY Architectural Inventory Form):
General Architectural Description: This bronze equestrian statue portrays General William Jackson Palmer and his favorite horse, Diablo. The statue faces south, with the General (in civilian attire) in a relaxed pose facing southwest towards Pikes Peak. The horse faces straight ahead with all four feet touching the ground. The bronze statue reportedly weighs 5,500 pounds and is fourteen feet high. The statue is placed on a raised granite base which rests on a 10’X18’ concrete foundation. The east and west sides of the base both bear the same inscription: “General William Jackson Palmer Founder of the City of Colorado Springs 1871.” The General’s saddle has no cinch (a fact pointed out during a 1948 city council debate on moving the statue by councilman Martin Drake), leading the Gazette-Telegraph to observe that “sculptor’s license is all that keeps the general’s saddle atop the horse and therefore keeps the general atop the saddle.”
Knowledge is power! And the power of persuasion can lend to the already lively debate about this historical monument and its location. For a comprehensive, interesting and invaluable report, peruse this Historical and Architectural Survey of Downtown Colorado Springs, 2003-04.
In this survey, you will find fascinating facts about the design and casting process which was ultimately performed by sculptors/designers, Nathan D. Potter of Boston, and his associate, Chester French. (Other sculptures by Daniel Chester French include busts or statues of Emerson, Gen. Lewis Cass, Ulysses S. Grant, George Washington, and the marble statue of a seated Abraham Lincoln in the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C.,) and the master craftsmanship of the Gorham Co. foundry of Providence, Rhode Island.
As you can see … a job well done! —Ca. 1900 photograph —2010 photograph
Now, maybe if we could all see this monument of excellent historic integrity through ‘Alice’s’ eyes maybe the statue saga would end once and for all!
Still not convinced? For further reading, stay tuned for the conclusion of The Iron Man, the Colorado Springs Man of Steel – part 7
Respect, enjoy and preserve!