Federal government officials have caught wind of Mayor Tom Henry's intent to move the iconic statue of Gen. "Mad" Anthony Wayne – and they don't like the plan.
In a Jan. 3 letter to the mayor, U.S. National Park Service architectural historian Michele J. Curran blasted the idea of moving the statue from Freimann Square to the Allen County Courthouse Greene, a national historic landmark.
"The Courthouse Building is set within a Greene that has been carefully restored with historic accuracy at great expense to the Allen County Courthouse Preservation Trust," Curran wrote. "It seems extremely insensitive on the part of the city to make a decision which is so damaging to the integrity of the Allen County Courthouse NHL."
As The News-Sentinel first reported in December, Henry would like to move the statue to a more visible spot because Freimann Square's thick canopy of trees hides it from view.
But Curran wrote that the National Park Service "highly recommends that the General Wayne statue not be relocated to the historic Courthouse Greene because it will damage the historical integrity of the Greene."
Still, Henry remains intent on moving the statue to the green, city spokesman John Perlich said in an email.
“Mayor Henry respects the concerns raised in the letter, but he remains committed to this project,” Perlich said. “He strongly believes moving the Anthony Wayne statue to the Courthouse Green will be a tremendous benefit to the community, residents and visitors.”
If the city were to move the statue to the courthouse property, the park service would reevaluate whether the space should remain a national historic landmark, Curran said in her letter. The Courthouse Green has been a national landmark since July 2003, when the U.S. Department of the Interior granted the status.
The letter also said Henry had not returned repeated phone calls to talk about the plan as of Jan. 3, but Perlich said Wednesday that Henry has spoken with Curran.
All nine members of City Council, city parks Director Al Moll and the members of the Fort Wayne Board of Park Commissioners also received copies of the letter.