PROVIDENCE — Rhode Island’s Independent Man statue, a fixture atop the State House dome, will be displayed inside the building for the public to visit, before it is transported for restoration and repairs, Governor Dan McKee said at a ceremony unveiling the statue on Wednesday morning.
The Independent Man was removed from its State House perch on Tuesday for the first time in nearly 50 years. The “much-needed” restoration comes after a state employee captured drone footage that showed the marble base supporting the statue had begun to separate.
“The Independent Man statue and our State House are two of the most recognizable symbols of our state,” said McKee. “While the Independent Man needed to come down for some much-needed repairs, we are going to capitalize on this moment to talk about Rhode Island’s history and Rhode Island’s future.”
McKee encouraged Rhode Islanders and visitors to check out the 11-foot statue while it’s on display in the State House’s main entryway, on the first floor of the building. It will be on view through Jan. 8, Monday through Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., according to a press release. Visitors can park in the Smith Street parking lot adjacent to the State House, and follow signage to the employee entrance. The main entrance on Smith Street will be closed while restoration crews continuing cleaning, according to the release.
Cast in bronze and plated in gold, crews removed the the 800-pound Independent Man statue from the damaged marble base using a 250-foot crane that extends 400 feet. The crane then lifted the statue up in the air, and set it down on the State House plaza on Tuesday. Crews moved the statue inside and mounted it on a specially-crafted base.
While it’s being restored, the governor said he hopes the Independent Man’s current gold plating will be updated with gold leaf “so that we can return him to his original luster.” The original Independent Man was covered in gold leaf, and was re-plated in gold when it was restored in 1975.
The four damaged marble pieces that form the base where the Independent Man is mounted will also be removed from the building, and workers will temporarily cover the State House cupola with a steel plate. A new marble base will be crafted before the statue is remounted, according to the press release.
The governor encourages people to share their visit with the Independent Man on social media using the hashtag #IndependentManRI. The RI Department of State also launched an Instagram for the statue on Wednesday.
This is only the second time in history the Independent Man was brought inside the State House. The statue has been a fixture atop its dome since 1899.