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Boreman Statue Being Planned for West Virginia Independence Hall

photo by: Photo by Joselyn King

Members of the Governor Arthur I Boreman Statue Committee convene at West Virginia Independence Hall in an office once used by Boreman, the state's first governor. His photo hangs behind them. Pictured from left are retired history professor Joseph Laker; Rebekah Karelis, director of historic preservation for Roxby Development; Wheeling Public Works Director Rusty Jebbia; Gerry Reilly, assistant director of museums for Oglebay Institute; Debbie Jones, site director for West Virgini

By JOSELYN KING

Staff Writer

WHEELING – A statue honoring West Virginia’s first governor, Arthur I. Boreman, is in the works for the lawn outside West Virginia Independence Hall.

The cost for the statue alone is expected to be nearly $130,000, and a major fundraising effort is about to start.

The Boreman tribute would join another on the property of Francis Pierpont, the governor of the Restored Government of Virginia who preceded Boreman as the state’s leader. Also in the yard sits the Soldiers and Sailors monument honoring Civil War veterans. Plans for the Boreman statue call for it to be erected on the lot beside it.

Members of the Governor Arthur I Boreman Statue Fund Committee gathered at WVIH Thursday to review the concept design for the Boreman sculpture. The statue has been designed by Morgantown artist Jamie Lester to be 6 feet tall before its base, but the committee determined Thursday it would like the figure to be 8 feet tall.

The figure of Pierpont, by comparison, sits 9 feet tall above its base.

Lester’s company, Vandalia Bronze, would be responsible for production and delivery of the sculpture. The statue of Boreman would be cast in bronze with a traditional brown patina, and would feature a sculpted flag with 35 stars.

The proposal submitted by Vandalia Bronze estimates the cost of the sculpture, foundry processing and delivery and installation at $129,000. The price does not include the cost of a base, or any needed excavation work.

West Virginia Curator for the West Virginia Department of Arts, Culture and History Randall Reed Smith will come to Wheeling next month to review the sculpture’s design and set plans for funding and fundraising, explained local historian Margaret Brennan, co-chair of the statue committee.

The creation and placement of the statue is expected to take over a year, but when the process starts actually is dependent on when funds are raised to pay for the project, she explained.

“Right now in the state there is no bust, no statue or anything else honoring Boreman,” Brennan added. At the same time, there are many honoring military heroes such as Stonewall Jackson.

“It irks me,” she said.

The sculpture intends to capture the moment in time on June 20, 1863 when Boreman became governor and the state of West Virginia was created. Following Boreman’s swearing in, Pierpont moved out of the governor’s office located within WVIH – and Boreman immediately moved in to the same office, Brennan said.

Others on the state committee include co-chair Debbie Jones, site director for West Virginia Independence Hall; retired history professor Joseph Laker; Rebekah Karelis, director of historic preservation for Roxby Development; Wheeling Public Works Director Russell Jebbia; Gerry Reilly, assistant director of museums for Oglebay Institute; Betsy Sweeney, historic preservation program manager with Wheeling Heritage, and Scott Schenerlein, executive director for Wheeling Heritage.

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