City founder's statue could wear many hats

July 27, 2011|By MATTHEW UMSTEAD |

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. — Martinsburg founder Adam Stephen wore so many "hats" in his life that a bronze sculpture of him planned for the town square could depict any of his professional forays, ranging from medicine and business to military service and politics.

"How should the town founder be depicted when he did all those things?" architect Matthew Grove asked on Tuesday.

Grove, who is scheduled to meet with the Martinsburg City Council  this evening to discuss how the artwork can be procured, said a preferred image of Stephen hasn't been decided for the sculpture.

A Scotland-born physician, Stephen served in the French and Indian War and rose to the rank of major general in the Revolutionary War. He served in the Virginia House of Burgesses and was Berkeley County's first sheriff.  

Grove said the sculptor commissioned for such a full-size work typically is chosen after reviewing reduced-size models of their proposed figure for Adam Stephen, Grove said. While no image of Stephen exists, Grove hopes artists interested in the project "read up" about the city's founder and are able to see paintings of the man's grandchildren that do survive.

The sculpture will be placed on a brick pedestal in the town square, which is being redesigned to improve pedestrian safety.

In related business, the city council today is expected to vote on increasing the city's financial commitment to the town square project to $323,720. The total cost of the project, including contingency money, is $1,618,600, according to a supplemental agreement that the council is scheduled to consider.

Construction of the new square is under way, and the decision to close the intersection of Queen and King streets for about three weeks starting today will allow contractors to work around the clock to minimize the length of traffic disruption at the busy intersection, City Manager Mark Baldwin said.

General parking downtown will be free during the intersection's closure.

Highway officials initially indicated a plan to reduce traffic to one lane, but Baldwin said the total intersection closure should allow the work to be done before school buses return to city streets for the next school year. The first day of school for students is Aug. 22, which also is when state transportation officials said they plan to reopen the intersection.

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