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The Case of the Moving Monument
Charles Benton Flagg Memorial returns
to its origins in Goodale Park

By Christine Hayes
hayesmoon@core.com
May/June 2012 Issue

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Photo Gus Brunsman III
The Friends of Goodale Park retrieved a monument – the Charles Benton Flagg Memorial – and put it back on its original site.

Charles Benton Flagg was United Commercial Traveler’s first Supreme Secretary and literally ran the organization out of his “sample case” – this was an organization started for traveling salesmen – for the first years of its existence. From the original council of eight in 1888, the group could boast 40,000 members in 1907, the year of the memorial’s dedication.

In 1888, a fraternal organization provided the “safety net” to its members of burial insurance and benefits to the family left behind. When Flagg died of pneumonia in 1901 at age 46, due to his prominence in the organization, a movement was started to raise funds for his memorial. It was unveiled with many speeches and choral singing on June 28, 1907, in Goodale Park.

As a budding organization, UCT gained a lot of momentum from Flagg. As a symbolic gesture, representatives from North, South, East, and West praised Flagg from the podium. They had long, flowery speeches prepared and wore regalia of “the Order.”

John Elbert Sater was a friend of Flagg and had been with the man in Chicago just before he died. Sater was an attorney and built Freshwater House at 140 Buttles Avenue (Charles Stribling, architect). UCT held meetings and social events at Freshwater House. Sater’s son and daughter-in-law, Ken and Margaret Sater, lived on Park Street and were active in the Victorian Village Society in the 1970s.

Sater was the keynote speaker at the 1907 Flagg monument dedication. He chaired the committee to design and supervise the building of the memorial. (The time-enduring stonework was actually done by the Thomas Staniland Company of Dayton.) Sater presented the sculpture to Supreme Counselor Peebles while Miss Marguerite Barger Sells “touched the silken cord, and the soft bunting in the colors of the Order which had concealed the monument from view fell away, revealing the pretty design in spotless granite, almost airy in its slender outline and fluted columns, but solidly and staunchly built and resting upon a broad and deep foundation of honest grout and masonry.”

Photo © Gus Brunsman III
Hon. Thomas H. Clark of the Columbus Park Commission accepted the sculpture on behalf of the city of Columbus. The sculpture was meant not only to honor Flagg but to uphold the ideals of UCT which are “Unity, Charity, Temperance.” Years later, denizens of Goodale Park were not minding these maxims, so somewhere between 1948 and 1955, when the neighborhood was in decline, the monument was moved to UCT’s yard (632 N. Park Street) to prevent its being vandalized.

When 632 N. Park was sold in 2008, it was time to move the statue back to the park in order to save it. The Durable Restoration representative in 2008 said “it is the most pristine century-old monument I have ever seen.” The Friends of Goodale Park secured permission from UCT to move the sculpture back into the park, but it wasn’t until Sunday, March 21, 2012, that the monument was moved with skill. The Pizzuti company, the new developers of the UCT site, provided the funds and equipment to move it.

Dale Johnson, a master sculptor brought in to oversee the installation, travels all over the world assisting in relocations like this one. Photo © Gus Brunsman III
Gus Brunsman photographed the move and remembers it in a frame-by-frame fondness. “They put a lot of work into trying to keep it safe. It is taller than 12 feet – a sizeable thing. It was 10:07 a.m. and the weather was clear and beautiful, trees bursting with blossoms, short-sleeve shirt weather. They had a gigantic forklift, they were cautious, the statue teetering though; they went slowly. The statue just made it under some electrical wires. Justin Loesch of the Park Department, and Mike Bird of Pizzuti Cos. placed their business cards under the base, as if it were a time capsule. Dale Johnson, the stonecarver, was the only one who touched it. He was chiseling at some extra mortar as it was affixed to the base.”

Jason Kentner is the president of Friends of Goodale Park. “The original footings of the statue were still there; they were plumb-level. The UCT is still a fraternal organization, and they were so pleased that we were doing this. Members of their organization commended us on Facebook. There is a non-profit side to Pizzuti – they are going to use the former UCT building as an art gallery. But the monument stood on land intended for a parking garage. We hope to have a dedication ceremony in the summer, to honor, in the Columbus Bicentennial year, the completion of the sculpture in the lake, the restoration of the Goodale Gates, and the re-placement of the UCT Flagg Memorial.”

Rick Miller, of the Columbus Recreation and Parks Dept., has been the City liaison with the Friends of Goodale Park. “I was in charge of all the legalities – transferring the ownership of the monument to the Friends of Goodale Park. I went before the Arts Commission, submitted the necessary papers, presented our case in January and February of 2012. We had to act quickly. We had to get approval and also a maintenance agreement. I worked with the Pizzuti Company on all the details.”

We look forward to the dedication ceremony of this special part of Columbus’s history.

Christine Hayes and Arnett Howard have been keeping a running blog of Columbus history and anecdotes and points of interest since January 1, for the Columbus Bicentennial. You can see their work at columbusbicentennial.blogspot.com

© 2012 Short North Gazette, Columbus, Ohio. All rights reserved.

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