The fate of a towering bronze sculpture of an elk that greets visitors upon arrival at Highland Lawn Cemetery is uncertain after the original plans of the Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks No.86 to auction it off. protested by local citizens.
The sculpture is 92 inches tall. The moose’s eyes are sunken, his ears alert as he peers around the rest of the graveyard. This is the first site offered when visiting the cemetery and it is recommended to visit it on the Smithsonian Museum site. waymarking.com.
An Elks official said on Tuesday the auction was temporarily suspended. On Monday, the organization released a statement that read:
“It has been brought to the attention of Terre Haute Elks Lodge that there is some controversy regarding our upcoming sale of the magnificent Bronze Elk currently on display at the Highland Lawn Cemetery in Terre Haute. If you haven’t seen it, the moose is on display across from the office and overlooks a burial ground originally purchased to give way to needy moose.
“Although this is an utterly awe-inspiring spectacle created by Gorham Foundry in 1904, the plots themselves have not been used for decades and the momentum is in need of a refurbishment for which the Local lodge cannot afford to pay We are looking for a new keeper for our price who can move the statue but we have some plots left to sell to the public and if a local buyer wished to keep it in Terre Haute we would be delighted. Our current plan is to auction it with the granite base with Maple Avenue Auction.The date of the sale has not yet been set.
The Elks were looking for a minimum bid of $ 30,000, plus all moving and repair costs.
Dot Lewis, who researches the history and art that adorn Terre Haute’s cemeteries (she once raised funds to have a tombstone erected at Highland Lawn for silent movie star Valeska Suratt), is among of those who are upset with the Elk plan.
“They have no respect for history,” Lewis said. “All they have to respect is money for their social club. It is sacrilege.
Lewis posted his protest on Facebook and received a plethora of responses from similarly offended commentators. “People say, ‘Who would do that someday? Who would even think of doing that? What’s wrong with these people? ‘ “, did she say. “And how far will $ 30,000 go?” They will be able to keep their bar open for a few more months. It is breathtaking. “
The Elks have purchased burial grounds in this area since at least 1922, when they first buried an exalted chief there, moving his body from his family’s lot after his initial burial in 1920.
Tommy Kleckner of the Terre Haute office of the Indiana Historic Landmarks Foundation said, “The first time I heard that they were considering selling the Elk, it was disappointing. It has been a landmark for decades and it is very important. The Elks Club has gone from financial hardship to financial hardship over the years. “
The Elks previously sold historic cannons that had been on display at Fort Harrison, but Kleckner said they didn’t get as much money as they expected.
“Not everything they would get for momentum would correspond to its intrinsic historical value,” Kleckner said. “I hope that a solution can be found to allow him to stay.”
Paul Majors, cemetery maintenance supervisor for the Terre Haute Department of Parks and Recreation, declined to comment for this story.
The Elk Sculpture at Highland Lawn was created in 1904 by sculptor Eli Harvey, born in Ohio in 1860. The Elks purchased it in 1927 and dedicated it the following year. The Elk was Harvey’s most popular work – Wikipedia lists 18 sculptures (titled “Elk” or “Elk at Rest”) he created for various Elks chapters in lodges and cemeteries across the country .
Harvey also designed lion sculptures on display in a mausoleum at Highland Lawn and became firmly engaged in animal sculpture in 1900. He died in 1957 at the age of 96 in California.
Since the cemetery does not own the sculpture, it has no say in what the Elks do with it. But Lewis believes the surviving family members of those buried around “Elk” should voice their displeasure with the group.
“The elk protects the limbs around it in perpetuity,” she said. “Elk graves are prime real estate in this cemetery. It’s an insult to the people buried there who thought he would still be there. Is this how you treat your inheritance? “
David Kronke can be reached at 812-231-4232 or [email protected]