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Statue of Patrick Henry Proposed

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Among other things, the money is being used to repair brickwork around the church and elevate the sidewalk to meet the grounds, making it more accessible, says Doug Harnsberger, principal architect for the project. Plans also call for creating a visitors center in the historic schoolhouse.

The statue idea has become a hot topic, Harnsberger says, because it could dovetail with recommendations recently made by the Greater Richmond Chamber of Commerce about the region’s role in preparing for 2007. The chamber estimates that at least 40,000 more tourists than usual will visit Richmond that year.

As part of its “Richmond 2007” project, the chamber learned through exhaustive interviews that Richmonders believe the most famous thing to happen here was Henry’s speech for freedom. A statue would honor Henry’s contribution to democracy and augment Richmond’s role as pivotal to it, Harnsberger says.

The statue could be part of goals already identified by the chamber to complete four new historical attractions by 2007:

• Restoring the 17th-century settlement of Henricus.

• Extending the Canal Walk eastward to the Great Ship Lock Park.

• Connecting St. John’s Church, the John Marshall House and the State Capitol to the “Patrick Henry Road to Revolution.”

• Mapping an African-American Heritage Tour.

Henry already has a sculptural presence downtown. He is one of seven historical and allegorical figures represented on the equestrian statue by sculptor Thomas Crawford of George Washington at Capitol Square. The small statue of Henry is positioned below the head of Washington’s horse.

— Brandon Walters

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