Charlie Payne, the proprietor of Newtown Mulch and Outdoor, expressed mixed emotions on a foggy Thursday morning about the departure of his 13-foot-tall, bright red, white, and blue statue of Uncle Sam from his Mt Pleasant Road business to a new location in Danbury.
But, he added, the towering piece of Americana will be prominently displayed in the main lobby of Danbury City Hall on Deer Hill Avenue, where the public will be able to view it as a potent reminder of the Danbury Fair, the state fair where the statue was displayed at an entry gate until that fair closed in 1981.
“It’s bittersweet, it’s bittersweet,” Mr Payne said as he watched members of the City of Danbury’s public utilities department use a crane to carefully shift the statue from a vertical position to a horizontal position and attach it to a trailer for shipment to Danbury.
Mr Payne, who is a lieutenant with the Danbury Fire Department, explained that he is making a long-term loan of the statue to Danbury for its public display. “It’s a piece of Danbury history,” he said.
The statue, which weighs several hundred pounds, was constructed of an amalgam of materials including fiberglass, plywood, chicken wire, and automotive body filler, Mr Payne said. It probably was fabricated in the 1930s or 1940s, he added. Mr Payne said he had extensive restoration work done on the statue after he acquired it.
A pedestal is being made for the statue’s display at Danbury City Hall and an explanatory plaque will be posted there, he said.
In describing the statue, Mr Payne said, “It’s a big piece of Americana, not a sign for my business.”
In the fall of 2010. the presence of the statue at the business became a point of conflict between the town and Mr Payne.
George Benson, town director of planning and land use, had then determined that the statue was serving as an illegal sign for the mulch business under the terms of the town’s zoning regulations.
Mr Payne had then responded that the statue was not illegal, but was an expression of his patriotism and support for American troops.
The town and Mr Payne then reached an agreement that the statue could be prominently displayed at his business during patriotic holidays, provided that he received the appropriate zoning permits for such display.
Such holiday displays have included Veterans Day, Memorial Day, Independence Day, and Labor Day.
Of the statue’s planned display at Danbury City Hall, Mr Benson said this week, “I think it’s a great use for it…I think it’s a good thing.”