Board votes to move Washington statue to Middlebrook
Plans have changed for the town’s Valley Forge Washington statue. Instead of being relocated from its home on Seeley Road to the Clune Center, the statue will find a home at Middlebrook School.
Long-time Wilton resident Gifford Proctor designed the sculpture in Rome in 1939, and produced it in Wilton over the course of 30 years.
The 10-foot statue was donated to the town by the Proctor and Keiser families earlier this year.
It is valued at approximately $25,000 and currently resides in a Seeley Road art studio that once belonged to the Keiser family.
During its July 23 meeting, the Board of Education voted to accept the town’s loan of the statue to the school district and move it to Middlebrook, where it will be used for educational purposes.
“It’s been announced that it would be going in the Clune Center [and] we’ve had a number of conversations with members of the district and folks in town about that location,” said Chairman Bruce Likly.
Earlier in the week, Likly said he, Superintendent Kevin Smith and board member Christine Finkelstein sat down with First Selectman Bill Brennan to discuss the statue’s future location.
“One of the conversation points was, ‘How can we best utilize this treasure [and] where would it really add the greatest value to the town?’” said Likly.
“We felt that it might be better utilized at Middlebrook, where we spend a lot of time teaching the birth of our country.”
Likly said the first selectman is “supportive of moving the George Washington statue ... to Middlebrook, where it can be restored, appropriately protected and used as a teaching tool.”
The plan is to place the statue in the foyer outside the Middlebrook auditorium, where performances, the Annual Town Meeting and other community events are held.
Likly said the sculpture would “spruce up a space that’s been under-utilized.” Finkelstein agreed and said she believes it is “the perfect spot for it.”
Board member Lory Rothstein asked how a resident with no connection to the school would be able to see the statue on school grounds.
Dr. Smith said that is a question Middlebrook Principal Maria Coleman would be “best poised to answer.” However, Coleman was not present at the meeting to answer Rothstein’s question.
Because the statue belongs to the town, Likly said, Brennan and board members have talked through the legal implications of changing the location of the statue’s future home.
To move it into the school district, Likly said, the board would have to adhere to its gifts and grants policy.
“For as long as the school district has a need for it and as long as the town is willing to let us have it,” he said, the education board will need to “approve the consignment of this statue on a temporary basis.”