“It’s a sad day.”
That was Northsider Leland Speed’s reaction when he found out that the statue of Andrew Jackson outside of Jackson City Hall would soon be taken down.
At its July 7 meeting, the council voted 5-1 to remove the bronze figure from Josh Halbert Garden in front of city hall.
The statue has stood over the spot for nearly five decades and was designed by Speed’s mother, Katherine Rhymes Speed Ettl.
“This was her first monument,” he said. “A sculptor can go through their whole career and never have a monument.
“They don’t put up monuments very often.”
The council approved removing the statue, citing the fact that the nation’s seventh president was a slaveholder, and forced native Americans off their home soils.
He also was the general who led the U.S. to victory in the Battle of New Orleans.
Ettl was commissioned to build the statue by the city of Jackson. The statue was put in place in 1972.
“There’s something about a sculpture that shows a place has significance,” Speed said. “If you will look around, we don’t have that many of those places.”
Ettl took up sculpting later in life, after her husband, the late Leland Speed, suffered his first heart attack.
“In those days, after the first attack, they send you home to be quiet and still for an extended period of time. My father was confined to the house. He liked to talk, and my mother couldn’t get a thing done.
“She was walking up the sidewalk and there was a sign in the window of Protective Paint Company that said ‘sculpture classes.’
“She said, ‘that’s what I can do. I can sculpt.’
Protective Paint Company was located on North State Street in Fondren.
Speed said his mother soon realized she was better than her instructor, and eventually went on to work with Sam Gore at Mississippi College.
After her husband died, she remarried and moved to Princeton, New Jersey.
Today, Ettl’s monuments dot the landscape – Ft. Carson, Colorado, Ft. Sam Houston, Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City.
“She also did a bust – one of her best pieces was a bust of the founder of Piney Woods School,” he said.
Speed wasn’t sure where he would like the statue moved.
“I really haven’t thought about it.”