Washington cast in bronze

November 05, 2000

Washington cast in bronze


As a young physician, David Fairbanks would often travel to Washington County with his wife to work at a local clinic.

Though they settled in the Washington, D.C., area, the couple never forgot community they grew to love 35 years ago.

"I remember coming to Hagerstown on U.S. 40 and we'd pass the Red Horse (Steakhouse). I never forgot that horse," said Fairbanks.

Fairbanks and his family returned to Washington County Sunday to honor the community they still admire with a sculpture of George Washington created by his late father, the renown artist Avard Tennyson Fairbanks.

The nearly nine-foot bronze bust of the nation's first president was unveiled Sunday afternoon near the entrance of Washington County Fine Arts Museum overlooking Hagerstown's City Park lake.


Fairbanks and his family presented the artwork to museum director Jean Woods before a gathering of about 25 people including Frances Hughes Glendening, state Sen. Donald Munson, R-Washington, and William Young Jr., president of the museum board of trustees.

"To stand in front of the sculpture is to see it as the artist saw it and to open yourself up to the creative and emotional impact," said Woods.

She called the sculpture an integral part of the beauty of City Park that will be enjoyed by many generations.

"It's a magnanimous gift to this fine institution," said Glendening.

"I think my father would take great pride and pleasure in knowing it was placed in the park," Fairbanks said.

The sculpture was originally created in 1975 in honor of the approaching bicentennial.

"My father told me, 'there may be a lot of great speeches and programs and hoopla but what great piece of lasting artwork will there be to celebrate the bicentennial?'" said Fairbanks.

Wanting to fill that void, Avard Fairbanks decided to sculpt a likeness of George Washington different from other artists who chose to depict the "Father of our Country," as older man.

"He wanted to show him young and vigorous but compassionate," said his son.

The large sculpture lists the name of the artist and is inscribed with the saying "First in War, First in Peace, First in the Hearts of his countrymen."

Fairbanks said it is his hope that the sculpture "gives pause to passersby who might connect the past with the future."

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