Ivers statue project takes another step forward

Thursday, January 17, 2019

Old Town Cape received word recently that the Missouri Humanities Council has awarded a $10,000 grant to erect a statue of a black union soldier at Ivers Square, the courthouse grounds so-named for a freed slave who enlisted in Cape Girardeau to fight in the Civil War.

Ivers Square honors the memory of Pvt. James Ivers, 56th U.S. Colored Infantry and his wife Harriet.

Efforts to install the statue are well underway. Community historian (and occasional Southeast Missourian contributor) Denise Lincoln paved the way for the recognition and statue with her exhaustive research.

Steven Hoffman, professor of history at Southeast Missouri State and OTC board member and Bonnie Kipper, member of the Cape Girardeau Historic Preservation Commission, are also assisting with the project.

It's unknown just how much so far has been raised. Multiple attempts to attain that information were unsuccessful. However, the statue is a great way to honor black history in Cape Girardeau. This grant will no doubt go a long way to securing all the necessary funds. Hoffman had earlier said the statue would cost anywhere from $45,000 to $60,000.

As reported last week by Joshua Hartwig, award-winning sculptor and artist Roy W. Butler of Tennessee is crafting the statue. Interpretive signage also will complement the renovations and physical improvements to the courthouse grounds.

"The statue already has been ordered and in the process of being cast, right now," said Sarah LaVenture, Old Town Cape projects coordinator. "It's happening. We're actually in the order of working with [Butler] on doing a site plan."

The panels will interpret four major topics: the history of James and Harriet Ivers; the compelling story of the other enslaved individuals who enlisted at the courthouse; the role of the Missouri's U.S. Colored Troops in the war effort; and the history of the existing union and confederate memorials on the site.

The statue's dedication is slated for June 8, commemorating the 156th anniversary of James Ivers' enlistment in the Union Army. The statue will complement the refurbishing of the gazebo on the courthouse lawn.

We're excited to see the reshaping of Ivers Square, and the installation of the statue of the union soldier.

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