Tribue to a native son

Sculptor Hamilton to unveil
Lincoln statue at Louisville park

Public dedication ceremony
to be held on waterfront at sunset

By Helen E. McKinney
Contributing Writer

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (June 2009) – The landscape of Louisville’s Waterfront Park will soon change forever with the unveiling of the Lincoln Memorial. A 12-foot statue of Abraham Lincoln seated on a rock will command a presence not to be forgotten along the Ohio River, poignantly demonstrating his life-long ties to Kentucky.

Ed Hamilton

Photo provided

Ed Hamilton poses with his twelve foot
model of President Lincoln.

The Lincoln Memorial at Waterfront Park was commissioned by the Waterfront Development Corporation. The Lincoln Memorial was funded by the Commonwealth of Kentucky, the family of Harry Frazier and the Kentucky Historical Society-Kentucky Abraham Lincoln Bicentennial Commission as part of the two-year celebration of the birth of the nation’s 16th president.
State Sen. Dan Kelly was instrumental in seeing this project through by getting $2 million put into the state budget for it, said David Karem, president of the Waterfront Development Corp. “It clearly is a centerpiece of the Kentucky culmination of the Lincoln Bicentennial,” said Karem.
As co-chairman of the Kentucky Abraham Lincoln Bicentennial Commission, Kelly has “played an active role in all of the Commission decisions,” said Lisa Cleveland, spokesperson for the Kentucky Historical Society. The Kentucky Abraham Lincoln Bicentennial Commission contributed financially toward the project, and the Kentucky Historical Society provided the research that went into the memorial. “It will be a visible monument to our native son,” she said.
A sunset dedication ceremony will be held Thursday, June 4. The ceremony will begin at 8:45 p.m. with gates opening at 8 p.m. and is free and open to the public.
Included will be a dramatic performance of Aaron Copland’s “Lincoln Portrait” and the Kentucky History Mobile, which contains the exhibit, “Kentucky’s Abraham Lincoln.”
Karem has worked with the Center for the Arts to provide a memorable ceremony. The event will contain music, orchestration and dramatic readings by actor William Mapother, who has ties to Louisville.
The memorial site features an amphitheatre with granite seating carved with famous Lincoln quotes. In addition to the sculpture of Lincoln, the site will also contain four bas reliefs relating four different stages of Lincoln’s life and experiences in Kentucky.
This tree-canopied landscape was designed by world-renowned landscape architects Hargreaves Associates. Their design concept “flows perfectly with the rest of the park,” Karem said.
Sculptor Ed Hamilton was chosen to create the memorial because he is a nationally recognized sculptor and has ties to Louisville, said Karem. Hamilton’s credits include “Spirit of Freedom,” a Washington, D.C., memorial honoring African American troops of the Civil War, and a sculpture of York, the slave of William Clark and vital part of the Lewis and Clark Expedition of 1803-1806. This 8-foot bronze is placed on the Belvedere plaza in downtown Louisville.
To create the Lincoln Memorial, Hamilton had to conduct many hours of research. He began with a biography by Russell Freedman and slowly expanded his knowledge of Lincoln to get a handle on what kind of sculpture would be appropriate.
One thing Hamilton constantly picked up from his research was the fact that Lincoln loved to tell stories. By placing the sculpture in a natural setting, it seems as if visitors to the site could walk right up to Lincoln and start talking to him.
This project is “a microcosm of Lincoln’s connections to the state of Kentucky,” Karem said. “I know we’ll become an important site for anyone interested in Lincoln.”

• For more information, visit: www.LouisvilleWaterfront.com/projects/lincoln/.

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