King statue unlikely to find home at City Hall

Supervisors Bevan Dufty and Sophie Maxwell had asked the Arts Commission and the City hall Preservation Advisory Commission to figure out if it were possible to “provide a home to the statue of Thomas Starr King” — which is slated to be lose its home at the U.S. Capitol in 2010 – at City Hall.

It doesn’t sound too possible.

“The sculpture from the U.S. Capitol is quite large, and locating it within City Hall would be difficult as well as costly. There are questions as to whether the flooring could support the weight of a life-sized bronze sculpture with marble plinth. In addition, the Arts Commission in conjunction with the City Hall Preservation Committee, recently passed guidelines stating that the city will only accept commemorative busts and not full figure sculptures permanently sited within City Hall,” wrote Allison Cummings, senior registrar of the Civic Art Collectin, to the supervisors.

Just who was he?

“Thomas Starr King (1824-1864) was a San Francisco Unitarian minister, abolitionist and patriot whose fiery eloquence is credited with helping keep California in the Union during the run-up to the Civil War. San Francisco already has a significant monument to Thomas Staff King in the Civic Art Collection, which is similar in character to the work at the U.S. Capitol. Dedicated in 1892, the existing monument is the work of sculptor Daniel Chester French (the same artist created the Abraham Lincoln monument in D.C.),” Cummings said. This sculpture the city has is located at the entrance to the Music Concourse at Golden Gate Park.

Other interesting facts: King’s gravesite, a second memorial statue and a bronze memorial plaque are located on Franklin Street at Geary in front of the First Unitarian and Universality Church. “His grave is one of a selected few that were allowed to remain when San Francisco moved its dead to Colma and elsewhere in the early 1900s.

 

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