Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Proposed Memphis Belle Memorial

A while ago the city administration signed a contract to allow the Memphis Belle Memorial Association to build a monument to the Belle adjacent to Veterans Plaza, between the Doughboy and the Korean memorial (at the zoo end). No park groups were consulted at that point, but I heard about it when they submitted their first design for review, and Parks Director Cindy Buchanan decided to form a review committee for Veterans Plaza in general, beginning with this project. It includes Cindy, me, Larry Franks (also DPS), Ritchie Smith, who designed the master plan for Overton Park, and John Weeden of Urban Art.

Their original proposal was a 40x20 foot concrete pad with a life-sized statue of Margaret Polk (the Belle herself) and a nine foot high granite "billboard" with information. We all felt that was too large, and they came back recently with the following proposal. It contains the life-sized bronze still, with a plaque that is laid back at a bit of an angle (unlike the current memorial plaques in the plaza), but it is still 4'2" high. The current ones are 5'5" high and feel far too high to me. They make something of a barrier to the views.

These are the drawings for the monument itself. They have proposed sidewalks on four sides, which would still mean a lot of concrete around it, but I hope we can reduce that.

The top drawing is the side view as you approach the monument from the plaza, walking past the Doughboy. You can see that the plaque is set at an angle, to be a little lower (if not a lot).

Below is the front of the monument, as seen directly from the plaza with the Greensward behind. The large bronze plaque will be a photo of the plane and crew.

This is the side view, seen from the zoo end of things.
There will be more historical information and a timeline in bronze on the back, facing the Greensward.

I am nervous about continuing to add things to Veterans Plaza, knowing that we also have two current wars underway and that the plaza is getting very full. We need to make sure that we don't get it too full (or worse, spill out into the rest of the park with such monuments), but it's a place that is very dear to the veterans of this community.

Anyway, here are the plans as they stand, and I thought it was time to at least get them out to be seen and have a public discussion if one is wanted. The Memphis Belle Association plans a groundbreaking at 11 am on Saturday, November 13th.

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