- Associated Press - Sunday, January 4, 2015

MINOT, N.D. (AP) - They’re sculpted in memorial, as symbols, out of reverence or just for fun. Statues can be found in Minot’s parks, schools and churchyards, and on private properties.

“We are working on a plan for our park system to be adding more statues,” said Elly DesLauriers, park district administrator. People or groups could purchase the park-themed statues as a tribute or memorial to be located in the parks around the city.

“We just think it adds to our parks,” DesLauriers said. “It’s a plan we had before the flood that we are getting back to. They seem to add some beautification, some art and some culture to our parks and facilities.”

Recently, the Minot Park Board was contacted by an anonymous individual who is interested in donating statues to enhance the parks and facilities, the Minot Daily News (http://bit.ly/1vD6diA ) reported. The donor offered to donate three statues with the ability to purchase future statues at cost.

One of the statues, portraying two children sitting in a tree, would be placed in Oak Park, near the start of the walking path. The second statue, which features several children climbing on a jungle gym, would be placed near the sun dial in Roosevelt Park. Near the entrance building of the Roosevelt Park Zoo is where the third statue, two giraffes, would be placed.

St. Joseph’s Community Health Foundation also is awaiting a statue purchased for Rosehill Cemetery in memory of the service of the Sisters of St. Francis. The sisters operated St. Joseph’s Hospital in Minot from 1913 to 1998.

Shelly Weppler, executive director for the foundation, said the idea for the statue came about five years ago when the Sisters of St. Francis gave the foundation the remainder of the funds from the sale of the hospital. During that visit, they paid their respects at Rosehill Cemetery, where about 20 of the sisters are buried.

Weppler said she was struck by the sisters’ contributions, yet there was nothing by the graves to acknowledge them.

“I looked at all these years of service. Some of the nuns there were born in the late 1800s,” she said.

She said she talked to the foundation board and told them of the need to dedicate that area of the cemetery. She worked with the cemetery operators, the foundation and the sisters in Denver to arrange for a section of land to be set aside for a memorial. Working with a Florida company, last February she ordered a statue in Italian marble of a sitting St. Francis surrounded by animals. Carved in China, the statue wasn’t finished for the August dedication of the site. It currently is in the process of being shipped to Minot.

A concrete platform was built, and a curved 5.5-foot bench exists to the right of where the statue will go.

A statue of Jesus also still stands at the front entrance of the Trinity building that formerly was St. Joseph’s hospital.

Statues appear to be popular in Minot, given the number that exists around the city.

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In 2013, the Minot Park District began drawing up a plan for the installation of the statue that now stands in Via View Park. The 7-foot high bronze sculpture features a pair of children bearing the American flag, originally purchased for the district’s centennial celebration in 2011 but kept in storage due to the flood.

The statue originally was destined to go near the baseball fields at Jack Hoeven Park. The park board decided to place it in a more noticeable location so more people could see it.

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A statue of a man stooping to tie the shoe of a youngster stands as a memorial to Rueben “Ookie” Hammond in the city park that bears Hammond’s name.

Hammond’s daughter, Bonny Berryman of Minot, acquired the statue for the park a few years before her father’s death. Hammond, who died in 2011, was a former city recreation director who was instrumental in establishing the park. Berryman purchased the statue from a sculptor in Las Vegas and attached the quote from Abraham Lincoln: “No man stands so tall as when he stoops to serve a child.” Berryman said the symbolism portrays her father.

“I think all parks should have statues,” said Berryman, who now is looking for a statue of a basketball player to complement a statue of tennis players proposed for Hammond Park.

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A large bronze statue titled “Rough Rider” stands in Roosevelt Park, depicting Theodore Roosevelt as a cavalry colonel in the Spanish-American War. Roosevelt is in full military uniform and appears to be reining in his spirited mount.

According to a history kept at the Theodore Roosevelt Center at Dickinson State University, the statue was commissioned by Theodore Roosevelt’s longtime friend Dr. Henry Waldo Coe after Roosevelt’s death in 1919. The two men met in the early days of Dakota Territory, where Coe was practicing medicine and Roosevelt was ranching. Coe had arrived in Mandan in 1880 and worked as a surgeon for the Northern Pacific Railroad. He served as Mandan mayor and in the territorial legislature. He moved to Portland, Oregon, in 1890.

Coe had commissioned several statues for the city of Portland during the 1920s. One was a large-scale “Rough Rider.” In all, he had three such statues made. The second is a smaller scale model of the original that was cast in 1922 and donated to Mandan in 1924. The third is an exact replica of the Mandan statue, cast in 1923 and donated to Minot in 1924.

Although Coe paid the entire cost of $40,000 for the statue, he left the raising of an additional $1,500 for the pedestal up to the city of Minot. Among those rallying behind the cause were the city’s children. In all, 3,166 children donated their coins to raise the money necessary, and their names were written in a book that was sealed in a copper and brass box inside the statue’s base. After the 1969 flood, the statue was moved to higher ground. When the box inside the pedestal was opened, the book containing the names of the children was retrieved, but the floodwaters had rendered it illegible.

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The concrete statue of the Great Northern Railway’s mascot, Rocky the mountain goat, is on public display within a picket fence enclosure inside The Railroad Museum of Minot.

According to the May 1956 issue of Modern Railroads magazine, Rocky was chosen as mascot for Great Northern in 1921, when the company’s vice president at the time, W.P. Kenney, became inspired by the mountain goats he viewed in Glacier National Park. From a marketing standpoint, it proved successful almost immediately and the mountain goat logo was placed on every locomotive and box car in the system. However, Rocky didn’t acquire his name until 1955.

Minot already had its Rocky statue by then. A number of Rocky statues were made by Scott Schuyler Boden at his SS Boden Cement Co. in Minot. Exactly how many were made isn’t known, but only two are known to survive one in Minot and one in Montana.

Minot’s Rocky spent most of his years outdoors on the lawn south of the Great Northern depot, until the railroad merged with Burlington Northern in 1970. At that time, Rocky was moved to Roosevelt Park, where he remained until the museum acquired him in 2002.

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A statue of a girl and a dog stands in the children’s section of the Minot Public Library.

Library director Jerry Kaup said the statue came from an anonymous donor who purchased it at the Great Tomato Festival more than 10 years ago. I. Keating Furniture World had donated the statue to the festival.

The statue has been a hit with the preschoolers, Kaup said.

“I have seen little kids go up and pet the dog,” he said. “They like it.”

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A statue of a beaver, the mascot at Minot State University, is a relatively recent addition to the city. Located between Memorial Hall and the Dome, the statute was constructed out of rebar by Belcourt artist Bennett Brien. It was dedicated in September 2013.

The sculpture depicts a beaver in a stream, holding a stick. The sculpture’s curving lines help make the scene look as if it is in motion. The artist said the stick could symbolize students or other people striving to achieve.

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The Class of 1979, realizing some extra income after its 30th reunion in 2009, gave the school district funds to buy a statue of two children, sitting on a bench and reading. The statue was placed outside the Minot school administration building downtown.

Laura Mihalick, a member of the class, said as a school board member, she had seen promotional material by the company selling the statues. The gift seemed appropriate as a representation of education and it met the desire of class members to donate to something tangible.

“We wanted to have something lasting,” Mihalick said.

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Two majestic hand-carved solid marble lions and a statue of Pope John Paul II adorn the area around the main entrance of St. Leo the Great Catholic Church in Minot.

The lions were a gift from contractors who worked on the restoration project at the church in 2011. Building Restoration Corp., Dalsin Roofing, Solid Construction, Hight Construction, Deloughery Painting Company and Northern Plumbing and Heating contributed.

The lions were made from solid marble in Minneapolis following a design crafted by the drafter at Building Restoration Corp. in cooperation with the St. Leo’s Building Committee.

The bronze statue of Pope John Paul II on the east side of St. Leo’s was made by a man of Middle Eastern origin who has since died. Several of the statues were made, and one came into the possession of an individual who chose to anonymously donate it to St. Leo’s.

John Paul II was head of the Catholic Church from Oct. 16, 1978, until his death in 2005. He is credited with helping to end Communist rule in his native Poland and eventually all of Europe.

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Funded by donations, the statues of a child angel and Jesus with two children were dedicated as part of a “Children’s Memorial Monument” at St. John the Apostle Catholic Church on May 31, 2004. The memorial is in remembrance of children who have died for whatever reason, in whatever stage of life.

The life-size figures in “Jesus and the Children” were designed to show joy and intimacy with Jesus. The little girl clings to Jesus’s arm affectionately as the little boy inspects the hand of Jesus. The other hand of Jesus is slightly raised, as if he is preparing to bless the children.

Steven Bennett, a North Carolina artist, created the statues using a method of ancient bronze casting called “lost wax casting.” The artist goes through a series of processes to create a ceramic shell, or mold for the molten bronze. Wax is used during the firing. As the shell is baked, the wax is eliminated, thus the term “lost wax.”

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Supporters of Catholic education have been generous in providing Bishop Ryan Catholic Church with visual reminders of their faith.

One of the oldest statues on the school property is a lion on the front lawn.

The Blessed Heart of Jesus statue that formerly was located at St. Joseph’s Hospital now stands outside the north entrance of the school. The woman who donated it to the hospital later had the statue donated to St. Leo’s Church after the Sisters of St. Francis sold the hospital in the 1990s.

“We didn’t have a place to put it,” said Neil Zimmerman, a member of the church. “So then we donated it to Bishop Ryan. It had been sitting on the southeast side of the building, and when they did their expansion a year ago, it had to be moved.

“When we moved it,” he added, “it was kind of just sitting there with nothing around it so I took it upon myself to do a little landscaping.” He put in rose bushes and petunias, which he tended over this past summer.

The statue had been unpainted until it came to Bishop Ryan and Karen Feist gave it an artist’s touch.

“It really stands out much better,” Zimmerman said.

More recent statues at the school include a kneeling angel on the south side that is about five years old. A statue of Mary, acquired with donations when the grotto area was built on the northeast side, has been in place at least a decade. Last fall, the school installed a privately donated bronze Sacred Heart of Jesus sculpture on the southeast corner, outside the new elementary wing.

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Ten years ago, the Easter Seals conducted its Catch a Painted Pony fundraiser, commissioning various artists to paint about 30 life-sized fiberglass horses for auction. Some of those auctioned horses remain in the Minot area.

Dean Aberle, owner of Homesteader’s Restaurant, bought one of the ponies to place outside the restaurant along U.S. Highway 2 & 52 on Minot’s west side.

Aberle said the horse fits in well with the homesteader’s theme, besides being extremely popular with customers. He said he’s received “tons” of comments over the years. The horse was painted by Towner artist Andrew Knutson. Although the horse has weathered the elements for 10 years, Aberle noted the horse remains as colorful as ever.

“It looks like it just got painted,” he said.

A second painted pony, featuring movie artwork, was painted by Minot artist Vern Skaug and stands in a corridor in Sleep Inn & Suites.

A third pony a sunflower, zebra, giraffe combination painted by Jane Shaar, wife of former Minot State University president Eric Shaar stands near the entrance to Roosevelt Park Zoo, along with another fiberglass statue of a Holstein cow. The cow originally had been acquired in connection with the children’s barn exhibit at the zoo.

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The Scandinavian Heritage Park is known for its statues of Nordic achievers. The oldest statue is that of Casper Oimoen, erected by the Minot Area Chamber of Commerce during Winterfest 1979. The bronze statue shows Norwegian-born Oimoen, who was a longtime Minot resident, standing with his skis. He was acclaimed across the continent for his graceful ski-jumping skill. He was a member of the 1932 U.S. Olympic Ski Team and captained the team for the 1936 Winter Olympics.

A second statue featuring another skier, Sondre Norheim, was put in place in October 1987 by Norsk Hostfest and Minot’s sister city of Skien, Norway. The statue shows Norheim, known as the father of modern skiing, holding skis. A duplicate statue was unveiled in 1988 in Morgedal, Norheim’s birthplace in Norway.

In October 1993, the statue of Icelander Leif Eriksson was dedicated. The 7-foot, 4-inch bronze statue shows the finely detailed artistry of sculptor Arlen Evenson of Boundary Lake, north of Bottineau. “Leif the Lucky” was the first European to step ashore in America in about the year 1000, according to the Vinlanda Saga of Iceland. The Icelandic Heritage Society sponsored the statue.

The Swedish Society of the Scandinavian Heritage Society raised $30,000 to add a Dala Horse to the park, dedicating the statue in October 2000. The 30-foot-tall horse is a replica of a hand-carved toy horse that’s become a symbol of Swedish culture. The story of the horse goes back to the lumberjack days when the fathers would carve animals for their children as a pastime. Their wives would decorate them with brightly colored paint. Peddlers coming through the lumber towns bought the toys and carried them to the rest of the country. In 1928, two brothers started a business making the horses in Sweden and that business has continued.

The life-sized, bronze statue of Danish story teller Hans Christian Andersen was donated by Lynn and Marilyn Odland and was dedicated by the Souris Valley Danish Society in October 2004. Shari Hamilton sculpted the author, whose famous books include “The Ugly Duckling,” seated on a platform, holding a duckling.

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A statue outside the Minot Rural Fire Station in south Minot honors local firefighters. Fire Chief Rex Weltikol said the department purchased the cement statue of a firefighter from a Wisconsin manufacturer three years ago with proceeds from a pancake breakfast fundraiser. Now they are looking for a Dalmatian statue, he said.

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The metal elk “roaming” the hills above U.S. Highway 2 & 52 Bypass on Minot’s west edge were the work of an area resident helping out an employer.

Malcom Halvorson, who had been a Rugby-area farmer, was working as caretaker for the late Virgil Farstad at Rice Lake when Farstad came up with an idea for metal elk statues. He persuaded his friend, Halvorson, to make the elk.

“He wasn’t an artist,” Virgil’s wife, Eunice, said. “He never did anything like it in his life.”

But he threw himself into the job, making 14 statues, of which a few were sold. The rest decorated the Farstad’s Rice Lake property. In about 1995, the Farstads sold the property and moved the elk to the Elk Ridge Condominium development in Minot that Virgil was a partner in.

Eunice Farstad said the development and the Elk Drive frontage road along the bypass were named for the statues, which used to stretch throughout the hill area before later development sprang up. She said diners would stop in at the nearby Homesteader’s Restaurant and ask for a seat where they could view the elk, not realizing they were only statues.

The Farstads recently gave one of the elk to the Halvorson family. A pair of fighting elk, a family of father, mother and baby elk and a few other elk statues remain, having been donated to the condominium association.

In southwest Minot, just off 16th Street on 14th Avenue, Greg and Ruby Feland’s art interests are apparent. Two bronze lion statues and a bronze statue of two women at a fountain grace their front entrance.

Ruby Feland said people passing by have stopped to comment or take photos. The lions were made in Arizona and the women at the fountain in California. Both came to Minot in 2011. The Felands also have sculptures in their home.

Feland said their sculpture collection started in about 2003 when they acquired a large eagle. It sat in their Minot house until they moved it to their Arizona home, where it sits outdoors. Sculptures and art also decorate their farm home near Antler. They both enjoy Native and western artwork, although Feland said her husband is the real connoisseur.

“He has quite the eye for art,” she said.

With that said, she related the story behind the life-sized, white marble statue of a woman in the backyard of their Minot home. Greg Feland bought it while it still was in its crate. Peering through the crate slats, he thought it was an angel. Not until the heavy crate was hoisted into their backyard and the statue unboxed was it discovered the sculpture was of a woman covering herself, not with wings, but with a blanket.

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Information from: Minot Daily News, http://www.minotdailynews.com

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