A cover was pulled off the 6-feet, 10-inches tall bronze statue of Thomas Alva Edison, not including the base, in the rotunda of the Ohio Statehouse where it will remain until October before making the trek to Washington to be installed in Statuary Hall of the US Capitol Building. “I think he inspires everyone who learns about his life and comes into contact with his legacy in any manner,” said Zanesville sculptor Alan Cottrill who crafted the statue. “I had to kind of throw myself into his personality and try to pull out those elements of myself, those few elements that I share with him. He was a dynamite man. He was a ball of fire.”
Douglass W. McDonald, president and chief executive officer of the Cincinnati Museum Center, which was involved in the process of choosing a sculptor for the statue said, “We were thoroughly impressed by the credentials and designs of the three finalists we considered for the project, but ultimately felt that Mr. Cottrill’s representation of Thomas Edison was the one we wanted to represent Ohio in the Capitol. Mr. Cottrill’s design captures the ingenuity and industriousness in Edison that is inside every Ohioan.”
“This piece is special to me,” said Cottrill, who has turned out hundreds of sculptures, many of them for public spaces, including an 8-foot bronze likeness of former Ohio State University football coach Woody Hayes on the main campus.
Before even beginning the sculpting process, Cottrill looked at hundreds of photos of Edison, read everything about him he could get his hands on, and visited Edison’s boyhood home, the Edison Birthplace Museum in Milan.
Edison statue has its right arm raised, holding up the incandescent light bulb that he helped to perfect. Music from one of his inventions, the phonograph, played during the ceremony.
The Ohio Statuary Hall Commission is trying to raise roughly $250,000 to pay for the statue, its transportation to the U.S. Capitol, and the return of the statue it will replace, that of Civil War Gov. William Allen. Ohio lawmakers began the process of replacing Allen’s statue because of the former governor’s tolerance of slavery and opposition to the Civil War and to President Lincoln’s policies.
The effort to locate the statue in the Capitol Building received a big boost with the announcement that the Charles Edison Fund — named for Thomas Edison’s son who served as governor of New Jersey and U.S. Secretary of the Navy — plans to match each donation dollar for dollar up to $125,000. Donations so far have totaled $45,000, much of it directly out of Milan.
The figure of Ohio’s other representative in Statuary Hall, that of assassinated President James Garfield’s statue, will not be replaced.