If you’re interested in a heavy bronze statue with a pink granite base and concrete foundation and you’re willing to pay to move it move it elsewhere, the city of Charlottesville, Virginia has one it will give away for free.
The city has issued a formal request for information in an effort to determine if any individual or organization would be willing to “safely remove, relocate and take ownership of” the 1919 statue depicting Sacajawea, Meriwether Lewis and William Clark.
The request is designed to find a new owner for the statue that depicts Sacajawea kneeling behind Lewis and Clark and titled “Their First View of the Pacific.”
The cast image has long been a sore spot with some city councilors and area residents. In 2019, representatives of the Shoshone and Monacan American Indian tribes, including lineal descendants of Sacajawea, voiced “extreme displeasure” at her depiction.
The council decided to look into removing the offending statue and considering other monuments honoring Sacajawea and local tribes.
“The assumption by the city of Charlottesville is that any prospective recipient would be responsible for the safe removal and relocation of the statue, including all of the associated planning and logistical work required,” the request states. “The recipient would also bear all of the associated financial costs related to this work.”
In return for the heavy lifting and toting, “the city of Charlottesville would transfer full ownership of the statue to the recipient at no cost to the recipient,” the information request states.
Filling out the request doesn’t mean you get the statue, however. The request is not a binding contract of any sort, city officials said.
“We’ll review the responses to the request and, should there be a party that proves suitable, there would be a formal offer to purchase made that would go through the normal purchasing process,” said Brian Wheeler, city spokesman.
The request is not a simple “take-it-off-our-hands” effort. The city wants to know why a party is interested in the statue and what it plans to do with it.
“The respondent must also show that they are capable of safely implementing the removal and relocation of the statue and that they have a solid understanding of the logistics involved in such an undertaking,” the request states. “As part of their response, the respondent shall include a brief summary that provides some information describing a proposed method for the statue removal and anticipated duration.”
The statue is about 18 feet tall and about 5 1/2 feet wide.
The removal of the statue, which sits in the middle of a 1,452-square-foot, brick wall-encircled traffic oasis, won’t be easy.
“In order to preserve its integrity, and to minimize the potential for damage to the individual stone, it may be advisable to consider the stone base and concrete foundation slab as monolithic and [move it as] one unit,” the requesting document states. “The busy intersection of West Main and Ridge Streets and McIntire Road presents additional challenges because of traffic and existing utilities around the statue.”
Those utilities could make moving tons of bronze and stone even trickier. Movers must watch for overhead power lines and power poles, and the request also lists a low-pressure gas main and service taps near the edifice.