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Myers Park Gold Man Statue Reinstalled Monday

An errant driver plowed into the Hugh McManaway statue in September 2017, knocking Hugh off his feet and damaging his arm.

Updated: 12:30 p.m. Monday, Nov. 12

More than a year after it was knocked down by an errant driver, the statue of Hugh McManaway returned — fully repaired and reinforced — to its regular spot at the intersection of Providence Road and Queens Road Monday. A public unveiling will follow Tuesday, city officials said.

The unveiling, scheduled for 2 p.m. Tuesday, will be attended by local city council members, representatives of the Arts and Science Council and Lee Baumgarten, a local artist who oversaw repairs.

Baumgarten said the statue suffered a broken arm and severed feet, as well as some minor bruising, when it was knocked off its pedestal last year. 

"So there were some other rips and tears, we got that taken care of," Baumgarten said. "[There were] some structural things on the inside we fortified and [we] cleaned the rock up — that took a little bit of work. So, we ended up getting it done in five months. I feel pretty good because we just contracted in June."

The statue's disappearance caused a stir among locals over the last year. It wasthe subject of questions from WFAE listeners, and even inspired a cardboard look-a-like to spring up in its place over the summer.

The four-foot gold-colored statue represents Hugh Pharr McManaway, a local eccentric who grew up in Myers Park and often stood by the intersection in the 60s and 70s. He would mimic as though he was directing traffic — never mind the signals. He was also remembered for passing out pocket Bibles, and for speaking in rhyme.

Hugh Pharr McManaway directing traffic at the Queens Road and Providence Road intersection.

"I'm at your service, without delay, summer, winter, night or day. I work for Christ and not for pay. My name is Hugh Pharr McManaway," he used to tell pedestrians.

When he died in 1989, local sisters Kitty Gaston and Anne McKenna raised money to have a statue of him built and installed at the intersection. With the help of Hugh McColl, president of Bank of America, the statue was erected in 2000 at a cost of $65,000.

Over the last two decades, the sculpture has often been dressed up for weddings, sporting events and other fun occasions.

It's also been hit repeatedly by Charlotte drivers. It was first knocked over by a car in 2002, then again in 2012. It was ran into a third time in September of 2017.

Baumgartentold WFAE in July that he planned to reinforce the inside of the statue and strengthen its connection to the base. A city official said a retaining wall could be built in front of the statue to deter future accidents.

Nick de la Canal is the host of Weekend Edition on Saturday/Sunday mornings, and a reporter covering breaking news, arts and culture, and general assignment stories. His work frequently appears on air and online. Periodically, he tweets: @nickdelacanal