Latest statue in Hannibal unveiled 15 years ago

Among the amenities Hannibal’s renovated riverfront could feature is a new statue.

“I have an anonymous donor who wants to donate money towards the purchase of a bronze statue down on the riverfront,” said Andy Dorian, director of the Hannibal Parks and Recreation Department, during the June meeting of the Park Board.

A riverfront statue would be Hannibal’s second. Last week marked the 15-year anniversary of the Sam Clemens statue’s unveiling on Glascock’s Landing. That statue was donated by the Fred Schwartz family of East Hannibal, Ill.

The location of the new statue and what it will portray are still matters of discussion. What is certain is that the Park Board, just as it did when the Sam Clemens statue was being considered, will have a voice in what is ultimately placed on the riverfront.

“We will have final approval of it,” Dorian promised the Park Board’s members.

According to Dorian, the donor has proposed a statue that features children in different poses. But don’t rule out a statue that salutes in some way Hannibal’s favorite son.

“I suggested getting a custom piece that’s more centered around Tom and Becky, or Mark Twain. They have really neat ones across the country that are of Mark Twain, and Tom and Becky,” he said. “You can buy a full-sized Mark Twain, or of Tom and Becky seated on a bench.

“They are a really good photo op. You can sit down next to them and put an arm around them. I was thinking (of locating a bench statue) in the Glascock area, where people get off the (large river) boats. It’s kind of a neat idea.”

Such life-size statues are not cheap, reported Dorian, who estimated they could cost anywhere from $75,000 to $90,000. The donor’s gift is said to be in the neighborhood of $25,000. Dorian proposed either finding a statue whose cost would be completely covered by the donation, or to find a second donor with interest in funding a statue.

“The Parks Department would not fund any of the statue,” he said.

While many decisions remain to be made regarding the new statue, one decision was made by the Park Board: It is definitely interested in adding a fifth statue.

“Before we move forward with this and start looking at realistic options, prices and designs, we wanted to make sure the Park Board was OK with this,” said Dorian.

The timeline for the addition of another statue is not a short one, stressed Dorian.

“We’re looking at a year and a half at least, maybe two, before this happens,” he said. “It might be a few months before we bring this up (before the Park Board) again.”

The Sam Clemens statue is not the only one that looks out over the Mississippi River. Overlooking the river from Riverview Park for over a century is a statue of Mark Twain. The Twain statue was re-dedicated in November 2013 on its 100th anniversary.

The other Twain-related statue that Hannibal features is the popular Tom and Huck statue that is located where North Main Street intersects North Street. It was originally dedicated on May 27, 1926. That statue is the first known in the United States to represent literary figures and is one of the few in the world depicting fictional characters.

Hannibal’s other statue, which has stood in Central Park since 1914, features the likeness of William Henry Hatch. Hatch, who moved from Kentucky to Hannibal in the mid-1850s, was a distinguished lawyer, a Confederate Army officer during the Civil War, and a representative of the state of Missouri to the U.S. House from 1879 through 1895. He died Dec. 23, 1896.

Reach reporter Danny Henley at danny.henley@courierpost.com