Independent Man being removed from Statehouse for cleaning, restoration

PROVIDENCE – For only the second time in the state’s history, the Independent Man will be temporarily removed from the top of the Statehouse.

The 11-foot, spear-wielding statue that sits atop the Statehouse will be removed for cleaning and repairs as part of a $2.2 million restoration effort for the building’s dome, Gov. Daniel J. McKee announced Friday.

“The Independent Man is an iconic symbol of our state and a source of pride for all Rhode Islanders,” McKee said.  “The statue has weathered decades of storms, blizzards and hurricanes, and it is important that we use this opportunity to invest in the People’s House and preserve the Independent Man for generations of Rhode Islanders and visitors to enjoy,” he said. 

McKee said a team of state employees documenting the restoration work had captured aerial footage showing the marble base undergirding the statue had begun to separate.  

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A work crew was on-site Friday to secure the statue before the arrival of Hurricane Lee. State officials plan to engage consultants to determine the next steps and are considering a temporary public display of the statue “before it is reunited to its base atop the Statehouse,” said McKee.

Originally named “Hope,” the statue was installed in 1899 and designed by artist and Rhode Island School of Design instructor George Brewster and cast by the Gorham Manufacturing Co. It was first removed from the Statehouse in 1975.

“We are grateful that our surveillance of the building revealed the damage to his base… before it could become a safety issue,” said the director of the R.I. Department of Administration, Jonathan Womer.

Christopher Allen is a PBN staff writer. You may contact him at 

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