Kidnapped for her own good...
Peter Osborne Holliday, Jr in front of our wayward Lady.
circa 1923 in Houston County, Georgia
At George Riley's farm in Kathleen, Ga circa 1923
Read a carbon copy (or as b&w pdf) of letter (9-19-1923) from Judge Bridges Smith to Sam Dunlap explaining the benevolent kidnapping of the statue by George Riley to restore and protect the Lady from neglect.
9-19-1923 Letter from former Mayor, now Judge
to his friend, George Riley explaining the
correspondence with Sam
Dunlap who wants the "Little Gal in the Fountain."
The letter's envelope has very fanciful penmanship
simple address format with a 2 cent stamp.
letter from Bridges Smith dated "Christmas Day,
Picture of George Samuel Riley mounted on his horse at the time he was Chief of Police in Macon, GA. circa 1915 during the administration of Mayor B. Smith.
Picture of George S Riley at his farm in Kathleen, Ga. with 2 of his daughters - Eula Riley [McAfee] and Martha R [Holliday]
Macon Telegraph, January 1950
A Macon statue that had been the center of a controversy that spread to many parts of the nation in 1918 was found [recently] resting on a pile of scrap iron in the side yard of Taylor Iron Works.
Known as the Lady of the Fountain, the statue once stood in a fountain in the Cotton Avenue Park in front of City Hall. A group of Macon women objected to the nudity of the statue and demanded that City Council remove her.
A heated controversy followed, but on March 9, 1918 during the administration of Glen Toole, the statue was removed. Bridges Smith had placed her in the fountain during his term as mayor and was one of the champions of the cause to keep her there.
Later, Smith gave the statue to George Riley who had been chief of police during Smith's administration, and Riley took her to his country home in Houston County. [Judge Smith's letters dated 9-19-1923 show that he had no control over the statue after leaving office as mayor. And thus he had nothing to do with G Riley's independent and inspired action to abduct the statue - webeditor]
Sometime around 1945, the statue became the property of C.A.McAlister, president of Taylor Iron Works. It was noted that the statue was badly in need of a new coat of paint. The metal umbrella which once sheltered her from the rain was rusted and had a large hole in it.
McAlister said he hoped some day to have the Lady repaired, but he had no plans for the statue at that time. He noted that it was not for sale at any price.
- reprinted [pdf format view] in the Telegraph in "Your Neighbors - 50 Years Ago" on 1-11-2000
Posted on Sun, Oct. 16, 2005 at http://www.macon.com/mld/macon/news/columnists/ed_grisamore/12914721.htm
The statue everybody would come see
By Ed Grisamore TELEGRAPH COLUMNIST
I walked in downtown Macon on Thursday afternoon to watch two statues pass by in a "parade."
As parades go, it was a bit disappointing. It consisted of a carriage being pulled by a team of Clydesdales. There was a single police car escort, followed by some men running around taking pictures and a few dignitaries.
There wasn't much need for crowd control. I counted 11 people along that stretch of Cherry Street. Two more came out of an office building to see what the commotion was about.
Most of the crowd was waiting in Rotary Park at the end of the parade route. They came to see the two lady statues, "Peace" and "Justice." Of course, the turnout was greatly enhanced by the invitation to a wine and cheese reception.
Sure, the statues were nice. But I also wondered what all the fuss was about. These aren't even our statues. They're going to live in Atlanta, where I hope somebody tells them they will have to pay higher taxes and fight the traffic.
Afterward, I was thinking about how we should bring a statue to downtown Macon that people would turn out to see without having to entice them with cups of cabernet sauvignon.
My hunch is the statue of the "Little Lady of the Fountain" would be a huge tourist attraction and a boon to our local economy.
Restaurants and shops could generate revenue without First Friday. The mayor could invite Little Richard back for another concert next month without having to beg for money.
That's because the "Little Lady of the Fountain" isn't wearing any clothes.
That's right. She's quite nude.
Local history buffs, pardon the pun, can tell you about the 3-foot-tall "lady," who arrived in Macon 100 years ago sitting on a half-shell and carrying a parasol. In 1905, a man named George Brown bought her from the Fiske Iron Works in New York and put her in the courtyard behind his Macon tavern.
Brown eventually gave the statue to an employee, who kept her at his home in Pleasant Hill. In 1913, Macon Mayor Bridges Smith had her placed - in all her glory - in a concrete pool in front of City Hall.
Needless to say, she created a few waves in that pool. Men showed up to gawk and stare. Ladies demanded that the council remove her from the premises. The controversy made national news - and probably "Larry King Live," too.
Once, under the cloak of darkness, a group of vigilante citizens covered her in a V-necked blouse, short skirt, striped hose and high-heeled shoes. Another time, an assistant park keeper felt the urge to paint her bright green.
She stuck around until 1918, when new Mayor Glen Toole had her removed to "make room for some shrubs." Since then, she has bounced between Houston County, Macon, Atlanta, Savannah and back to Macon. Several of her limbs have had to be repaired over the years.
Keith Stringfellow, who once operated a downtown antique store, told me last week the statue is now privately owned by a Macon family. It is covered up in the back of a local machine shop.
Maybe we can get her back, stick her in a fountain and watch the crowds line up like they do for cherry ice cream every March.
We could even let Martha Burke come down and stage a protest. That would be fun.
I bet even folks in Dry Branch would drive over just to see a statue of a naked lady.
Reach Gris at 744-4275 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Visit his Web site at www.grisamore.com
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