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The People's Monuments of
Monument Park

(Source:  Battle Creek Enquirer June 29, 1998)

In the past, the people of Battle Creek have demonstrated their willingness to remember people important to the community. The new statue of Sojourner Truth will continue this tradition.

Truth called Battle Creek home for more than twenty years and residents now have the opportunity to contribute to the creation of her memorial in Monument Park. The 12-foot figure will join the two existing monuments that were also created through the active participation of local citizens.

PostStatue.jpg (12446 bytes)The first statue which was erected in the park honors cereal magnate C.W. Post. In 1891 Post came to Battle Creek as a middle aged, chronically ill  business failure. By the end of the decade, he was a millionaire entrepreneur who inspired dozens of others to imitate him, sparking the city's "cereal boom."

Despite his financial success, Post died an untimely death in 1914. The stunned citizens of Battle Creek "felt it was proper and fitting for the town to recognize those who do conspicuous service in the capacity of town-builders."

Post certainly qualified as a "town-builder." Not only did he establish a thriving business which became one of the town's leading employers, but he also created the Post Additions on the city's east side. Convinced that a worker who owned his own home was a more stable and more productive worker, Post bought land near his factory and made building lots and inexpensive homes available to his employees.

After he had earned his personal fortune and solidified his business, Post turned to building downtown Battle Creek. Between 1901 and 1913 he transformed the west end of the city, constructing the Post Tavern, the Post Office Building, a ten-story Annex, the Marjorie office block and the Post Theater.

To erect an "enduring monument" to this energetic city builder, the people of Battle Creek banded together and raised $10,000 during the winter of 1916.

A portion of Monument Square at the intersection of Division and Main streets was officially set aside and renamed Post Park. There the bronze statue of C.W. Post was dedicated in May 1917.

For the next 16 years, Post sat alone in his park. It was not until 1933 that the ground was broken for the second monument.

But when it was built, the stone tower was so unique that it was featured in Ripley's Believe It or Not.

tower.jpg (17212 bytes)The tower, or "Rock of Ages," as Ripley called it, was the dream of Battle Creek historian James H. Brown. For several years Brown led auto tours to historic sites on the east coast. On these trips he picked up stones from the places he visited, including Plymouth Rock, Mt. Vernon and Lincoln's birthplace.

Brown also collected stones and objects related to Battle Creek's history. A stone dedicated to the memory of Sojourner Truth is mounted in the northwest corner of the monument.

Before he began construction in 1935, Brown carefully planned the layout of the tower. Part of his plan was to include wide participation by groups of young people. Local Boy Scouts and 4-H club members contributed their old jack knives to the tower. School children from around the city collected more than 3,000 pebbles and small stones which were buried in the tower base.

As they stand today in Monument Park, the two existing memorials reflect the active participation of the citizens of Battle Creek.

The new statue of Sojourner Truth will continue this tradition. As a citizen of the city Truth called home for more than twenty years, you, too, will have the opportunity to contribute to the creation of her memorial in Monument Park.

 

 

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