Ohio gaining new representation

Thomas Edison statue project moves forward, search launched for artist
Tom Jackson
Apr 10, 2014
The project to put a statue of Milan native Thomas Edison in Statuary Hall of the U.S. Capitol Building in Washington, D.C., has moved forward.

The state commission carrying out the project announced it has begun the search for a sculptor to create the artwork honoring the famous inventor. The commission has set a tentative date of Oct. 21, 2015, to unveil the new statue at the U.S. Capitol.

The Ohio Statuary Hall Commission issued a request for qualifications for artists to submit proposals for the statue. The deadline to turn in a proposal is 4 p.m. May 5, with artists invited to go to Ohiostatuaryhall.org for more details.

The commission will select up to five artists, each making a small model of the proposed design. The commission plans to pick one July 14, subject to approval from the Architect of the Capitol and the Joint Committee on the Library of Congress. The statue could be made of either bronze or marble.

Cody Hefner, a spokesman for the project, and Don Gfell, of Milan, a member of the commission, said the announcement should help inspire more efforts to raise money for the project. The cost of the statue is being covered by private funds.

“We just can’t wait to get the statue placed there,” Gfell said. “We’ve been working on this for over six years. We’re very excited that the commission has now released the request for qualifications for the artists. Now that means we’re actually going to have some movement”

Said Hefner: “With the request for qualifications going out, it makes it much more real. We expect fundraising to pick up at this point”

The target is a ways off.

So far, about $35,000 has been raised. Hefner estimates the project needs about $800,000, while Gfell estimates about $750,000 is needed.

Every state is allowed to be represented by two statues at the U.S. Capitol Building. Ohio is represented by President James Garfield and former politician and governor William Allen.

Allen’s anti-Lincoln opinions during the Civil War have not worn well over the years, and state lawmakers voted to bring his statue home and replace it with another famous Ohioan. Edison edged other contenders in a poll taken by the Ohio Historical Society.

No decision has been made yet on where Allen’s statue will be placed. A local historical society in Chillicothe, Allen’s hometown, has offered to take in the statue.