Tech's largest statue to be unveiled today
Before coming to Tech, President Phil Oldham and First Lady Kari Oldham had admired a large metal eagle on the front lawn of one of their neighbors in Signal Mountain, Tenn.
That 3-foot tall eagle inspired the Oldhams to try to find one for the lawn of the president's residence, Walton House, when Oldham became the university president in July 2012.
Soon after he took office, Tech alumnus Charles Hawkins gave Oldham a large wooden eagle. When Oldham and Hawkins met, they came to realize they had been neighbors on Signal Mountain, and that Hawkins was the owner of that impressive metal lawn eagle Oldham had passed many times.
Hawkins, '53, was asked to find an eagle for Walton House.
"I worked on it a little while and said I couldn't find one," Hawkins said. "Cheryl (Montgomery, College of Business development officer) said she had every confidence that I would find one so I kept looking and I found this one. I bought it without seeing it."
After three weeks of trawling the internet for metal eagles, Hawkins found a 1,500 pound, 7-foot statue in an antique store in Duncanville, Penn. Rather than making the more than 10-hour drive to look at it, Hawkins bought it and had it shipped to Cookeville.
Several Cookeville businesses came together to help get the statue from Pennsylvania and prepare it to be installed at Walton House. Averitt Express transported it and Stone Steel Co. and Automotive Enterprises worked to restore it and prepare it so it will be impervious to the elements. Facilities built the brick and limestone 1,000 pound pedestal for the eagle.
"We are so grateful to the Cookeville community for coming together to make this vision a reality for Walton House," said Kari Oldham.
After several months of polishing and painting, the eagle, nicknamed Charlie after Hawkins, is ready to place in the circular garden of the Walton House drive. Tech will unveil the statue in a public dedication ceremony from 1 p.m. to 2 p.m. today at Walton House, 1155 N. Dixie Ave. on campus.
Charlie the Eagle is the latest of more than 40 eagles Hawkins has donated to various Tech employees over the years. It will be the largest eagle statue on the university campus.
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