Monument to Maggie L. Walker would be fitting tribute to her & Richmond

Potential site for Maggie Walker monument, the intersection of Broad Street, Adams Street and Brook RoadA resolution to support a monument to famed Richmonder Maggie Lena Walker has passed through Richmond City Council.

She was an educator and is best known for being the first woman to charter and serve as president of a bank in the United States. Her home in the 100 block of E. Leigh Street in Jackson Ward is a federally protected National Historic Site. She was born in Richmond in 1867 and died here in 1934. She is buried in Evergreen Cemetery.

NBC12’s Laura Geller wrote:

In a city of monuments, leaders want this monument to be a big deal. They do not want something that will blend into the background, but a statue that will make people think about the accomplishments of the first African-American woman to run a bank…Under the ordinance, the city will study if the intersection of Broad Street, Adams Street and Brook Road will make for a good location. Originally, [Councilman Charles] Samuels wanted the statue to go on Monument Avenue but he’s been convinced Jackson Ward is the perfect place. The project will be funded through private donations.

Richmond is a city of monuments and Jackson Ward is the perfect place for this one. With all the economic growth and physical improvements to the neighborhood once known as the “Harlem of the South” and the “Black Wall Street of America” because of its reputation as a center for both black commerce and entertainment.

According to CBS6’s Mark Holmberg:

Currently, only a large tree sits in that triangle made by the three intersecting roads downtown, just a few blocks from where Walker’s Consolidated Bank & Trust now sits. But there’s much more standing in the way. Specifically, funding, as the last portion of the resolution points out. The city council vote was largely symbolic, noting the city will have to make sure it owns that triangle before it can even consider using it for this monument.

Knowing who owns the quirky triangle is important [locator map]. It would be a shame for that tree to go, but that much-improved section of the Broad Street corridor could use another attraction to continue its resurgance.

Marcus S. Jones Jr., 1971 graduate of Maggie Walker High School and president of the Maggie L. Walker Statue Foundation. He said to CBS6’s Holmberg: “I’m going to try to get a grant, written for $500,000 to a million dollars.”

Arthur Ashe statue on Monument Avenue in Richmond, VirginiaAs I did when I wrote about my proposed statue to Lewis Ginter, let’s use Richmond’s statue honoring tennis champion and Richmond native Arthur Ashe as a comparison.   

Ashe is honored with a 12 foot tall bronze statue at Monument Avenue and Roseneath Road that stands on a 87,000 pound granite block and rises 28 feet above the street. It was created by artist Paul Di Pasquale and was dedicated in July 1996 with a cost of nearly $450,000 (according to figures from the Richmond Times-Dispatch).   

Bojangles Park in Jackson Ward in Richmond, VirginiaIf the property transfer brings no larger cost to the city than the tree removal and some cosmetic work, a monument to Maggie L. Walker in that spot could cost between $500,000 and $750,000, depending on the artist and scale of the monument. The size of the triangle should keep the sculpture to a scale similar to that of Bill Bojangles Robinson, which conveniently resides four blocks away north on Adams Street, forming a nice bookend of sorts for Jackson Ward.


9 responses to this post.

  1. […]  Paul Hammond brought up the idea of a statue commemorating Maggie Walker. This idea has been publicized by Paul Riggan on his blog, where he posted this beautiful photo of the […]


  2. […] Photo by Phil Riggan from his 2010 post about putting a Maggie Walker statue here on his blog Richmond on the […]


  3. Posted by modernatelierperfumes on December 13, 2010 at 10:58 pm

    What I don’t understand is why all the folks who are so determined to honor Maggie Walker (and believe me, she deserves it) don’t raise more of a fuss about Evergreen Cemetery! It’s a disgrace.


  4. As much as it would appear to fit in with what some call heroes, many do not visit Monument Avenue. Monument Avenue was conceived to honor people who dedicated their lives to the perpetual ownership of Africans, and who fought against the United States. As a native Richmond African American, please beilieve this is not intended to insult anyone, but images of freedom fighters do not go amongst images of freedom deniers. Let those who believe that individuals who fight against the United States are heroes enjoy that ideal in its own setting, but please allow others of all colors and ethnicites, like myself, who wish to enjoy thoughts of freedom in settings containing images of those who fought all their lives for the right to be free, to have one moment of uninterrupted solace. I’ve paid taxes here since I was a little kid, and all I’ve seen are statues, soldiers, monuments, streets, hoighways, bridges, buildings, venues, and events honoring freedom’s deniers. There is a difference between one who fights against freedom and one who fights for freedom, and the two ideals are not the same. Statues of Great Freedom minded Americans, as even in the case of Abraham Lincoln, can fare quite well on their own, without being placed amongst their antitheses. I look forward to seeing Mrs. Walker’s Statue erected in the neighborhood she cared for for so many years. Perhaps here, the statue will serve as an inspiration to the community she helped to build, and the little children who will be able to see her there. May God Bless us all.


  5. I called for something like this last year, but on Monument, not Broad. Either would be fine, but Jackson Ward is Maggie’s home and we could use her help right now. I think it would look grand sitting at that intersection and put JW back on the map. Next year is going to be the year of the Ward with the Hippodrome opening and Jackson Place kicking off.


  6. I had nominated Ms. Walker for our Avenue of Heroes, Monument Avenue, a couple years ago. I thought it would be a fitting place for her. This spot in may be even better. It would make a perfect gateway to Jackson Ward and be see by thousands of Richmonders everyday. I like the tree, I like Maggie Walker even better.


  7. Great post. The first contoversy will be about the tree that occupies that space. I believe that is the perfect location for the statue, but people are already squabbling about the tree.


  8. Posted by Jean on November 24, 2010 at 2:59 pm

    Hurray! Mrs. Walker is one of my heroes.

    I hope and pray that the statue will not be as hideous as the Ashe statue. Sorry, but the Ashe monument did Mr. Ashe no credit at all. It reads as a guy holding a book and tennis racket out of reach of the children. It’s ludicrous at best. Why not leave the tree and have Mrs. Walker sitting under it, at rest from her superhuman labors? If that doesn’t seem “monumental” enough, think of the Lincoln memorial. Except I’d favor a more thoughtful relaxed look for Mrs. Walker, like a mother, receptive and weary.


  9. I totally think that is a great idea, and Jackson Ward is the right place for her monument, of course.

    I hope that however it is accomplished, that the organizers take their time and select an appropriate monument for her. I am not a huge fan of the Arthur Ashe monument — the idea is good, but I don’t exactly like the monument itself.


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