Franklin's Statue of Liberty
THE STORY OF THE STATUE OF LIBERTY AT FRANKLIN SCHOOL
The Statue of Liberty that has stood prominently in front of Franklin School since 1951 is an exact replica of the original Statue of Liberty in New York Harbor. The replica is 1/19th the size of the 151-foot statue in New York Harbor. The sheet copper used for the statue on the campus of Franklin School is made of sheet copper that is 3/32nd of an inch thick. It is made of the same material and equal thickness as the Statue of Liberty in New York. The Franklin statue is 8 1/2 feet tall without the base. It weighs 290 pounds. The cost of the statue was $350, plus $9 for freight.
The star-shaped base, (which is also the shape of the foundation on the New York statue) came at a cost of $250 in addition to donated labor. The footing of the statue is 22 inches deep and rests on the bed of the old street. The cement and bricks were furnished at cost by Joe Oldham and the Badger Lumber Company. The brick pedestal is 3 feet 2 inches square at the base and 6 1/2 feet tall. The brick star is 15 feet across at its farthest points and 2 feet high. The architect for the star design was Leo Adams.
On Saturday, September 15, 1951, the Statue of Liberty was dedicated after a mile-long parade of 1,000 uniformed scouts and leaders. The Excelsior Springs and Liberty High School bands performed along the parade route and on the grounds of Franklin School. The statue was unveiled by H. Roe Bartle at the precise moment the flight of twelve F-51 navy airplanes from the Olathe base flew overhead.
It was dedicated by the boy Scouts of Clay County as a pledge of "everlasting fidelity and loyalty to freedom”. After fundraising efforts to restore the statue were completed, the statue was rededicated in front of Franklin School in the fall of 1992. The statue was again removed for restoration and rededicated on December 14, 2001, in front of Franklin School with Mayor Steve Hawkins giving a speech.
Original Efforts and Contributors to the Process of Securing the Statue
Sometime in the 1940s, Kansas City Businessman, J.P. Whitaker, originated the idea of making replicas of the “Statue of Liberty" to be placed in cities across the nation. The Kansas City council took the idea and engaged in a crusade to “Strengthen the Arm of liberty”. The Whitaker Cable Company would supply the statues to communities that wanted to purchase one. Between 1949 and 1952, approximately two hundred replicas of the statue were purchased by Boy Scout troops and donated to communities in 39 states and several territories of the United States. Over the years, many of these statues have been lost or destroyed, but preservationists were able to account for 100 of them in 2013.
Roy Barnes, executive field director of the Kansas City Area Council of Boy Scouts of America, spoke to the Rotary Club of Liberty in November of 1949 about the opportunity to obtain an exact replica of the Statue of Liberty. The theme for the scouting program at that time was "Forward on Liberty's Team.” In June of 1951, the Pioneer District Boy Scout Council voted to erect the replica of the Statue of Liberty in Liberty rather than in Excelsior Springs.
A committee named to make the purchase selected the site and supervised the installation. Members of the committee included C. Ray Franklin, Lloyd Yates, district scout chairman; Kenneth Eiker, Josh Kindred, Hugh Loughrey, and Conn Withers. It was decided the Statue would be put on the grounds of the only elementary school at that time, Franklin Elementary School on West Mill Street. The Boy Scouts of Clay County made donations and worked to secure additional donations to get "Lady Liberty” here. Other than the Boy Scout and Cub Scout troops, there were about 75 other contributors whose names are preserved in the base on the Statue, on a scroll. Arthur L. Reppert, Kenneth Eiker, and R. Harvey Wason were in charge of collecting money.