Statues in Public Spaces of Historical Women in Kentucky

Randolph Hollingsworth's picture

It was with great delight that we found out about the Lifetime Herstory Map - . Sadly, we saw that they only had one Kentucky woman monument on their map: Elizabeth Rogers in Berea, on Boone Street. She was the wife of Berea College principal, John A.R. Rogers - and one of the first teachers at the college, the first interracial school in the South. According to the plaque: "The sculpture depicts a scene that might have taken place in the school house in the mid-1860s. Elizabeth Rogers teaches about equality and freedom in the Declaration of Independence."

We asked the Lifetime editors to add some more existing statues of historical women in public spaces in Kentucky. Here's the ones we know about - do you know of more?

  • Mary Gaylord McClean (in Shelbyville, KY):
    Yes, the Smithsonian list entry for this monument leads with the horse's name, but Gwen Reardon's equine sculpture of Santana Lass includes a full portrayal of the rider/owner, Mary Gaylord (located at the entrance of the Shelbyville Fairgrounds). Mary Gaylord (later McClean) is a champion owner/breeder/exhibitor and has her own Wikipedia entry:
    Here are some images of the statue and plaque that we found posted on an equine-related discussion board
  • Catherine Spalding (in Louisville, KY):
    The Catholic Sisters of Charity of Nazareth support the bronze statue of Mother Catherine Spalding that was erected in 2015 in front of the Cathedral of the Assumption (433 S 5th Street, Louisville, KY 40202). The statue, portraying her with two children, is featured in her Wikipedia entry: There's an earlier newspaper article by a great civil rights leader in Louisville, Dolores Delahanty, about Spalding and the monument committee
  • Mary Breckinridge (in Hyden, KY):
    A bronze statue of Mary Carson Breckinridge, founder and director of the Frontier Nursing Services, is located in a plaza at Riverfront Park near the Mary Breckinridge ARH Hospital. The statue was unveiled in 2010; she is portrayed on horseback, leaning down to touch the hand of a child reaching up to her. The plaque reads: "In honor of the partnerships between Mary Breckinridge and the people of Leslie County to provide quality healthcare for all."
  • Olivia Hatcher (in Pikeville, KY):
    A full-size marble portrait of Octavia Smith Hatcher (1869-1891) of Pikeville stands above her tombstone in Pikeville Cemetery now a part of the Pikeville University campus. Commissioned by her husband after her death, the statue is cloaked in a local legend that she died after being mistakenly buried alive. Rumors of hauntings continue to excite young students who still visit the gravesite - the statue's right arm has been broken by vandals. See a close-up photo in the RoadsideAmerica article.

In addition to these monuments that we've found, we announce upcoming celebrations to be held here in Kentucky because of the great work of Amanda Matthews of The Artemis Initiative. Planned for completion in August 2018 is a bronze monument of Nettie Depp (an early public school superintendent in Barren County) which will be placed in the west wing of the Kentucky Capitol Building (though not in the rotunda with the male statues, sadly). The bronze statue of journalist/educator Alice Dunnigan of Kentucky is also a project of The Artemis Initiative. The Dunnigan monument is scheduled for unveiling this fall at the Newseum in Washington DC as part of their "1968: 50 Years of Civil Rights" exhibition. They have requested the sculpture of Ms. Dunnigan to stay until early January 2019 when the exhibition ends, then the sculpture will make its way back to Kentucky and will be permanently installed outdoors in the (still being built) Alice Dunnigan Memorial Park in Russellville, KY in 2019.