Governor McKee Unveils Independent Man Inside the State House for the First Time in Nearly 50 Years

 

Statue unveiled in an historic ceremony featuring special guests  

 

PROVIDENCE, RI – In an historic ceremony today, Governor Dan McKee unveiled the Independent Man statute on display in the State House following its temporary removal from the dome for the first time in nearly 50 years and for only the second time in the state’s history. During the ceremony, the Governor also announced that the Independent Man will be on display at the State House until January 8th for the public to enjoy before it is transported for repair and restoration.

 

"The Independent Man statute and our State House are two of the most recognizable symbols of our state," said Governor 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. I want to thank all the men and women who have been working diligently on cleaning the outside of our State House and those who worked on safely bringing the Independent Man down from the dome. I invite Rhode Islanders and visitors from our neighboring states and across the country to come see the Independent Man on display in our State House and experience this historic moment that will be remember for generations to come."

 

The statue is being temporarily moved to undergo much-needed repair and restoration. Earlier this year – while documenting the State House cleaning and restoration project initiated by Governor McKee – a state employee captured drone footage that showed the marble base supporting the Independent Man was beginning to separate.  

 

At the unveiling ceremony, the Governor was joined by Secretary of State Gregg Amore; Lt. Gen. Reginald Centracchio who was tasked with unscrewing the bolts that held the statue in place in last time it was removed; Kristen Adamo, President/CEO of the Providence Warwick Convention Visitors Center Bureau, elected leaders and Rhode Island history enthusiasts from across the state. The event was emceed by Rhode Island’s Anchorman Gene Valicenti.  

 

“Rhode Island is home to a rich and unique history, and I thank Governor McKee for his efforts to make sure the Independent Man is accessible to Rhode Islanders for public viewing,” said Secretary of State Gregg M. Amore. “I encourage all Rhode Islanders who are excited about this connection to our history to visit the State Archives and experience our state’s other treasures, as well as to join us in exploring the future growth of our State Archives.” 

 

Yesterday, the more than 800-lb Independent Man statue, cast in bronze and plated in gold, made his historic move from atop the State House dome. The statue was secured by metal rigging that was wrapped in protective material to protect the statue’s surface. The rigging was then connected to a 250-ton crane that extends to 400 feet. Crews working on the exterior scaffolding and inside the cupola on which the statue is mounted worked to remove him from the damaged marble base. Once the Independent Man was separated from the marble, the crane lifted him up in the air and set him down onto the State House plaza, facing Smith Street where crews carried him inside and mounted him on a specially-crafted base.  

 

While the original Independent Man was covered in gold leaf, in the 1970's conservation, the statue was not re-covered in gold leaf, but rather plated in gold. Our hope is to apply gold leaf over the current plating, so that we return him to his original luster. We would not have to remove the existing gold plating to complete this process, and given the likelihood that the gold leaf experiences wear over time, the gold in the plating will still be visible.

 

Additionally, the crane will now be used to remove the four damaged marble pieces that form the base upon which the Independent Man is mounted. Once those pieces are removed, workers will cover the top of the State House cupola temporarily with a steel plate. A new marble base will be crafted before the statue is remounted. 

 

“The State of Rhode Island has a wealth of architectural treasures within its borders, and the Independent Man restoration serves as an important reminder that we must be good stewards of these assets. I want to commend our Division of Capital Asset Management and Maintenance and its partners for this effort. They are doing a remarkable job of bringing the sheen back to the State House exterior and taking great care of our State’s history," said Director of Administration Jonathan Womer.

 

“One of my earliest childhood memories is of the Independent Man being taken down in 1975,” said Kristen Adamo, president and CEO of the Providence Warwick Convention & Visitors Bureau. “Our state is so rich with history, and that is one of the main drivers of our tourism industry. It’s moments like these, when those pieces of history become tangible and accessible, that create even more buzz. I’m excited to see a new generation of Rhode Islanders and visitors get their photos and lasting memories with the iconic Independent Man.”

 

The Governor encourages Rhode Islanders to share their Independent Man selfies on social media using #IndependentManRI.  The RI Department of State also today launched an Instagram account dedicated to the Independent Man, @independentmanri.

 

Where, When and How to Visit the Independent Man 

 

December 6 – January 8: The Independent Man will be on display in the main entryway on the first floor of the State House (82 Smith Street Providence, RI) between 8:30 a.m. and 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday. Visitors can park in the larger Smith Street parking lot adjacent to the State House and follow the signage to the employee entrance.  

 

Please note: the main entrance on Smith Street remains closed while restoration crews continue cleaning and restoring the building’s façade. Visitors should use the employee entrance on Smith Street and follow the signage up to the first floor.  

 

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