ATLANTA — Statues make for a great way to tell the history of a person or an event.
They can be found on street corners, in town squares, in front of major buildings and on major town greens. They are often great ways to learn a little but about the history of a particular city or state.
Now, Georgia has a unique history. And, these five statues are a great way to explore a bit of the state’s history.
James Oglethorpe, Augusta
Two years after he founded Savannah, James Oglethorpe sent troops up the Savannah River with the command to build at the head of the navigable portion of the river to serve as an inland trading post. That settlement is today known as Augusta, named in honor of Princess Augusta.
In 2003, city leaders unveiled a $10,000 statue of the “Father of Georgia.” Jeffrey and Anna Koh Varilla sculpted the 200-pound statue of Oglethorpe in his mid 30s, his age when he founded the city, holding the Georgia charter in one hand and a sword in the other.
The statue is located in the Augusta Common along Broad Street between 8th and 9th streets — about 50 yards away from the statue of another famous Augusta resident, James Brown, the “The Godfather of Soul.”
Ben Epps Statue, Athens
The Wright Brothers may have all the glory when it comes to recounting aviation history. But, when it comes to retelling the story of flight, at least in Georgia, Ben Epps is right there with the brothers from Dayton, Ohio.
Four years after the Wright Brothers made history, Epps in 1907 piloted a plane he built. While details of that first flight are few, Epps cemented himself in flying history.
In 2011, the Athens community unveiled a statue on Washington Street, across from just former shop.
Samuel Spencer, Atlanta
A statue to former Southern Railway President Samuel Spencer was unveiled in May 1910 on the plaza at Atlanta’s Terminal Station. The statue was presented to the state of Georgia and the city of Atlanta.
It remained there for 60 years, until 1970 when the station was razed. It was relocated to Southern’s Peachtree Station in July 1970, then relocated to Hardy Ivy Park in downtown Atlanta in 1996 and moved to its current location outside the Norfolk Southern building in Midtown Atlanta in 2009.
During his career, Spencer served as president of six railroads, but his career started in 1869 as a member of a surveying crew rodman for the Savannah & Western.
Romulus and Remus, Rome
When the Chatillon Corporation Silk Mill relocated to Rome from Milan, Italy, in 1929, Benito Mussolini presented the city with a gift. The statue — a replica of an Etruscan statue standing on Capitoline Hill in Rome, Italy’s Palazzo dei Conservatori — features a Capitoline Wolf with Romulus and Remus.
Interesting as the 1,500-pound statue may appear today, during the 1930s and 1940s, the wolf wasn’t so revered by Romans. In 1933, one of the twins was stolen and by June 1940, the city council decided to remove the statue from public display for its own protection.
On Sept. 8, 1952, the statue was put back on its pedestal in front of City Hall in downtown Rome. “Regardless of its hectic past, the Capitoline Wolf remains as much a part of Rome, Ga. as it does Rome, Italy,” the Rome News-Tribune reported in a Sept. 2, 1963, article.
Gateway of Dreams, Atlanta
The 1996 Olympics were a seminal moment in the history of Atlanta. It is therefore no surprise a statue of Baron Pierre De Coubertin, founder of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and father of the modern Olympics, stands in Centennial Olympic Park in Downtown Atlanta. The park is perhaps the single greatest legacy of the 1996 Olympics.
The statue is part of the “Gateway of Dreams” sculpture. Raymond Kaskey sculpted the artwork, which debuted in 1996.