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Keep Anthony Wayne where he’s star of show

If the Courthouse Green is not protected, it could look like a carnival site. Mayor Tom Henry’s proposal to move the Gen. Anthony Wayne statue from Freimann Square to the Courthouse front yard is the first step toward the carnival.

With some modest landscaping, the statue can be more visible without moving it.

When the Green was designed, the decision was made not to put anything else there so nothing would conflict with the Allen County Courthouse.

The building is the jewel of the setting. The Green was meant to be a quiet reflecting space from which to admire the building.

And the building is something to be admired. It is one of 40 historic landmarks in Indiana, and in the application for this distinction, the Green is listed as a significant and contributing factor. In addition, the Courthouse is ranked as the second most important county courthouse in the country.

With such honors comes the responsibility to protect it.

The Anthony Wayne statue was placed in a tree grove to be discovered when entering Freimann Square, sort of like encountering the general in the wooded Fort Wayne of his time. But the view from Clinton Street is impeded by trees, none of which were original to the plan and are not native plants.

Their removal, along with some low limb clearing on the sugar maples closer to the intersection, would open the view to the sculpture. When the statue had its green patina, it probably stood out from its context much more effectively.

As the statue is dark brown now, it does not contrast well.

The entry into Freimann could be enhanced by adding some sweeping, low-level evergreen shrubs/ground cover to distinguish this entrance, visually linking it with the Courthouse Green’s entry treatment, and bringing more focus to the sculpture’s current location.

Anthony Wayne could be brought back to life by correcting the landscaping while keeping two important community assets intact instead of damaging both.

Significant changes to the Courthouse Green would be needed to create a suitably spacious plaza around the sculpture, at a cost of tens of thousands of dollars.

As the design of the Courthouse Green is symmetrical, these changes would need to be mirrored elsewhere to look right.

The sculpture base is about 6 feet by 15 feet. The radius of the corner entry plaza is 25 feet. If Anthony Wayne is placed in this location, only 5 feet of circulating space is left around it in a park where the major walks are 10 feet wide.

The scale of the statue is wrong for the scale of the Allen County Courthouse. The statue was never designed to go with such a monumental building.

This is a classic sculpture proposed to be moved to the front of a Beaux Arts building. The time frames of the two do not correspond. It would lessen the impact of both.

There is no good place to put Anthony Wayne in the Green. Anthony Wayne deserves a park of his own; where he is the star, which is why he was put in Freimann Square.

He should dwarf us because he was a bigger-than-life person. It will trivialize him to be put in a setting where he will look very diminutive in comparison to the building.

Please join the Allen County Courthouse Preservation Trust in urging the mayor, in these challenging economic times, fraught with many potential cuts to city services to citizens, to consider the more economical and far more appropriate choice for the location of Anthony Wayne.

Madelane Elston is chairwoman of the Allen County Courthouse Preservation Trust. This is adapted from a letter she sent to Mayor Tom Henry.

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