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Statue Added To Charlotte's History Trail Commemorates Orphanage

Edwin Augustus Osborne
Courtesy photo
The statue depicts Edwin Augustus Osborne, who founded the orphanage, and three children.

If you didn't know, Charlotte has a trail of history marking some of the city’s most influential figures. Along the Little Sugar Creek Greenway, the trail runs from the heart of Central Piedmont’s campus to Freedom Park.

Credit Episcopal Church Diocese of North Carolina / Wikimedia Commons
Girls from the Thompson Orphanage in Charlotte, NC

The trail’s seventh statue was erected on Friday. It commemorates 125 years of the Thompson Child and Family Focus organization, which began as an orphanage on the banks of the creek where the statue now stands.

The statue depicts Edwin Augustus Osborne, who founded the orphanage, and three children. All are barefoot, and appear to have just waded in the creek.

Trail of History Vice Chairman Scott Syfert says the group wants to tell stories that aren't well known but should be.

"It’s a really interesting and cool statue of children sitting along the walkway with their shoes off right along the creek," Syfert said. "This statue — like all of the statues we put up, like Jane Wilkes, including Captain Jack, Thomas Spratt and so forth — we're telling different stories about Charlotte."

The Trail of History started roughly 15 years ago by former Central Piedmont Community College President Dr. Tony Zeiss as part of the restoration of the Little Sugar Creek Greenway. He had a vision that the city would have statues of eminent Charlotte people to resurrect the city’s history.

Syfert said the trail is especially important because of Charlotte’s history of tearing down old buildings.

"As with so much of Charlotte, the old buildings no longer exist," Syfert said. "And unlike Philadelphia or Charleston, we don't see old buildings so we don't know that anything happened. Similarly, the Thompson’s children orphanage is now gone. So what we're trying to bring back is the knowledge of that place and that period." 

The Trail of History is a privately-funded organization that raises about $250,000 to commission each piece. The long-term plan is for 21 statues, with three more scheduled over the next several years. The next one will be of civil rights attorney Julius Chambers. That’s expected in about a year.