PHOTOS: Myers Park Gold Man Statue Reinstalled Monday
More than a year after it was hit by a drunken driver, the gold-colored statue of Hugh McManaway was reinstalled at the intersection of Providence and Queens Monday morning, much to the delight of drivers passing by during the morning rush.
The statue, originally installed at the intersection in 2000, arrived strapped to the back of a flat-bed truck shortly before 9 a.m.
The man who the statue memorializes, local eccentric Hugh McManaway, often stood at the intersection in the 60s and 70s and mimicked as though he was directing traffic. He was also remembered for passing out pocket Bibles, and for speaking in rhyme.
"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.
After he died in 1989, neighbors raised money to have a statue of him placed at the intersection.
While the real Hugh was never hit by a car, his metal likeness has not been so fortunate.
Since it was installed in 2000, the statue has been hit three times — once in 2002, again in 2012 and most recently, in Sept. 2017. After the latest crash, the statue had to undergo extensive surgery, having suffered a broken arm, severed shoes, and other scrapes and bruises.
Lee Baumgarten, the local artist who oversaw the repairs, said his team repaired the statue's surface and also ran steel rods from the granite base up through the statue's legs to lend more stability. The team also added 40 to 50 pounds of solid steel to the base, hopefully making it harder to topple over in the future. All together, the repairs cost about $19,500.
As workers strapped the statue to a forklift, some drivers leaned out their windows — ignoring the light rain and drizzle — to catch a picture.
At 9:15 a.m., the statue and its pedestal were hoisted into the air and slowly moved into position. It was carefully guided onto a concrete slab poured about a week ago, a few feet behind where the statue previously stood.
After he was lowered into place, Hugh was wrapped in tarps to keep him dry in the wet weather, and to keep him concealed before his public unveiling, scheduled for 2 p.m. Tuesday afternoon.
After the unveiling ceremony, city workers have plans to build a three-foot retaining wall around Hugh for extra protection.
As workers surrounded the tarp-wrapped statue with plastic, water-filled barriers, a woman leaned out of her car and shouted, "I'm so happy! It will be great to have him back for Christmas."