Monday, January 10, 2011

January, 2011 meeting of The History Club & Statues to Robert Burns

Saturday, January 8, 2011, was a meeting of the Scottish American History Club, an activity connected to the Illinois St. Andrew's Society.  It was a cold and snowy day, so our attendance was smaller than usual.  We were also dealing with a new computer.  The old computer had faithfully served for more than six years, but suddenly died.  We had one day to purchase, load and become acquainted with our new Gateway.  Thanks to June Steele of Lake Forest for supplying the funds to purchase the new computer.

It was not the smoothest presentation.  Some of the slides mysteriously were out of order and I kept straying for the subject!  Will try and do better the next time.

We did cover the six oldest statues of Robert Burns in the United States.We believe there are 13 statues in total.  The oldest is located in New York City (Central Park), followed by Albany (Washington Park), New York and Barre Vermont.  Then came the one in Denver (City Park), Colorado, Chicago (Garfield Park), Illinois and San Francisco, California (Golden Gate Park). They cover a period from 1880 to 1908.

The statue in Albany, New York, is the only one paid for by a lady.  Miss Mary McPherson was a housekeeper who saved her money and left an estate of $30,000 for a momument to her favorite poet.  The other statues involve many donors.

In San Francisco, the model was sent to the De Rome Foundry for casting and was destroyed by the great earthquake and fire in 1906.  A replacement was not completed until 1908.  John McGilvray was involved in the statues in both Denver and San Francisco.  The local Caledonian Clubs were very active in seeing that this honor was given to Robert Burns.

W. Grant Stevenson of Edinburgh was the Sculptor for statues in Chicago, Denver and Milwaukee.  They are replicas of the one in Denver. 

It is widely reported on the Internet that each Carnegie Library was to have a bust of Robert Burns displayed.  Some of the libraries I have visisted do have the bust, but some do not.  I have also not been able to document that requirement.  If someone can help that would be appreciated.  there are 3,460 Carnegie Libraries in the world.

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