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‘City of Monuments’ No Longer a Man’s World

April 30, 2013

Concept by StudioEIS and the 1717 Design Group. (Photo from the Women's Monument Commission)

Concept by StudioEIS and the 1717 Design Group. (Photo from the Women’s Monument Commission)

By Alix Hines
Capital News Service

RICHMOND – Richmond is called the City of Monuments, whether it’s for the grand statues lining Monument Avenue or the historical figures overlooking Capitol Square. George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Robert E. Lee, J.E.B Stuart, Stonewall Jackson and even Arthur Ashe are among the figures Richmond honors with monuments in their name.

See a pattern there? None of those statues depict women.

That won’t be the case for long. A monument dedicated to the achievements of women will be integrated into the landscape of the state Capitol. State officials are currently raising funds for the project.

In 2010, the General Assembly passed a resolution approving the project and creating a commission to carry it out.

Former Sen. Mary Margaret Whipple of Arlington, a member of the commission, said the idea was initiated by M. Bowles Locker Alsap, a Richmond resident now in her 90s. Alsap was talking with a group of friends about how nice it would be to honor the achievements of women of Virginia over the past 400 years.

“These ladies approached Sen. Walter Stosch from Richmond, who was their senator. And he introduced a resolution in the General Assembly resolving that space would be set aside on the Capitol grounds for a suitable monument to the achievements of women in Virginia,” Whipple said.

Ivan Schwartz of StudioEIS in New York, who installed last year’s sculpture of Thomas Jefferson in the state Capitol, will team up with John Crank of the 1717 Design Group in Richmond to construct the monument.

Crank will be responsible for the architectural design of the monument, while Schwartz will focus on the sculptures.

The committee, which includes historians and representatives from the Library of Virginia, has not decided whether the statues will depict specific women from Virginia history or more general figures.

“The monument will be like a park, in a park-like setting, and will have the figures of both standing and seated women, so that those who come can feel like they’re sitting down next to the person or engaging in a conversation with this statue that represents a woman or a class of women in Virginia,” Whipple said.

The Virginia Capitol Foundation now must raise about $3 million for the project. Once funding is in place, Whipple said, it will take about 18 months to construct the landscape portion of the monument and sculpt the 10 statues.

For information about the monument and how to donate, visit the Women’s Monument Commission’s website at http://womensmonumentcom.virginia.gov