The project would be incorporated into the Streetscape renovation project, with the sculptures becoming a highlight of the small park area on North Main Street, near the Ideal Bakery. The park was upgraded with volunteer labor and donated funds last year, but is to receive a complete overhaul as part of the Streetscape project.
The proposal remains in an early, conceptual stage. It was presented to the Cedartown City Commission at its regular monthly meeting by Julia Knight, the artist who designed the sculptures. Also on hand were local attorney George Mundy, a project volunteer, and Brad Jones, the architect for the Streetscape project.
The idea first came up in 1998, Knight said, when attorney Lamar Gammage approached her with an idea for a Hall of Fame to honor famous athletes from Cedartown.
“We discussed this project until his death,” Knight said. “Departing from the original idea of one sculpture of the group of honorees, I designed an outdoor space with a separate statue for each athlete, connected by a walkway.”
The proposal progressed as far as Knight making miniatures of the statues out of paper, called maquettes. The project was set aside after Gammage’s death in 2002.
Last year, while packing her studio for a trip to Italy, Knight said she rediscovered the miniatures along with her notes and other paperwork. Sharing these with Mundy and Jones, the idea was reborn and has gained new life, aided by the work taking place downtown.
Jones brought a model of the proposed Walk of Fame to Monday’s meeting. These were on display next to new miniatures that Knight cast in bronze, providing a clear idea of what the full-sized sculptures will look like.
Jones said the sculptures could be incorporated into the redesigned city park when it is built – or, they could be added later as private funding allows their creation and installation to take place. These statues would each be about 54 inches tall.
“In speaking with Brad Jones about the possibility of putting the Walk of Fame in the new downtown Streetscape, the question of size came up,” Knight said. “I recommend the statues be three-quarters life size.
“The statues will be totally visible up close and yet tall enough to evoke a monumental scale. On a two-foot base the faces of the statues will be close enough to see clearly.”
Planned are separate figures honoring Ray Beck, Edgar Chandler, Whitlow Wyatt, Howard “Doc” Ayers and Doug Sanders.
Beck, who died in 2007, and Chandler, who died in 1992, were both professional football players. Beck was in the National Football League and played for the New York Giants in 1952 and from 1955 to 1957. Chandler played linebacker five years for the Buffalo Bills (1968-1972), and one year for the New England Patriots (1973). He was inducted into the Georgia Sports Hall of Fame in 1988.
Wyatt, who died in 1993, was a professional baseball pitcher. He is remembered as a key figure in the Brooklyn Dodgers' celebrated 1941 National League pennant victory.
Sanders is a former American professional golfer who won twenty PGA Tour tournaments during his career. He resides in Houston, Texas.
Ayers was a University of Georgia assistant coach. He also coached the Cedartown High School football team for several years, including the 1963 state championship team. Ayers remains active in local sports, and helps raise money for a variety of local charitable causes through the Doc Ayers/Ray Beck celebrity golf tournament.
“The lives of these men demonstrate quality, discipline and creativity,” Knight said. “From the stories of their upbringing and rise to national fame, one learns about the discipline necessary to develop one’s talents. From the quality of their work, one can see they loved what they were doing.
“These citizens of Cedartown have been our good neighbors and our good friends while distinguishing themselves on the national level in the world of sports, entertainment and politics,” she said. “Their examples as personified in the Walk of Fame will inspire generations of Cedartown’s young people whose statutes may someday be added to this memorial.”
Mundy said additional planning is needed and fund-raising activities are planned to raise the private capital necessary to build the statues. The cost is estimated at $45,000 for each sculpture.
“The goal today is to put it on your radar screens,” Mundy said.
Commissioners spoke favorably of the project’s potential as a tourism draw to the downtown area.
“I think this is the attraction that downtown and the Streetscape project has been looking for,” Commissioner Dale Tuck said.
Tillery said the timing of the presentation was perfect, because the next phase of Streetscape work is coming up to bid in another two to three weeks.
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