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MailTribune.com
  • Has the statue of Abraham Lincoln always had such bad luck?

  • The 5-foot-tall statue of Abraham Lincoln is famous across the state for the indignities it has suffered as a resident of Ashland's Lithia Park.
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  • The 5-foot-tall statue of Abraham Lincoln is famous across the state for the indignities it has suffered as a resident of Ashland's Lithia Park.
    Originally fashioned out of marble at a studio in Florence, Italy, the statue has lost its head four times since Jackson County native Gwin S. Butler dedicated it in memory of his stepfather, pioneer Jacob Thompson, in 1916.
    The statue was originally placed in a sycamore grove on the hill near the Butler-Perozzi fountain, donated by Butler and businessman D. Perozzi.
    It's unclear whether the Lincoln statue's first decapitation was intentional or the result of vandals toppling it over on Nov. 4, 1958.
    In December 1958, Doyle M. Benson, 18, of Ashland, was fined and sentenced to jail for 30 days for his role in the vandalism, according to a Dec. 18, 1958, Mail Tribune article.
    In late summer or early fall 1967, vandals tore the head off the statue again.
    Weary of paying to repair damages caused by vandalism to the statue, the Ashland Parks Commission decided on Nov. 7, 1967, to store it away.
    Two months later, the Ashland Daily Tidings published a photo of the statue lying in the weeds near the sewer treatment plant.
    "After that people started complaining about what they did with Lincoln," said longtime Ashland resident Hamid Ghavam.
    In response to the public outcry over the Lincoln statue's humiliation, the city called on the art department at Southern Oregon College (now Southern Oregon University) to restore the statue to its former glory.
    Ghavam, then an art student, volunteered to repair the statue and chipped off a gallon of blue paint, completing his work in March 1968.
    "It was like brand new," Ghavam recalled.
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