Posts Tagged ‘Bridgestone’

The Secret Behind the Harvey Firestone Statue

July 15, 2012

Harvey Firestone Statue
1659 South Main Street

Few names are as synonymous with Akron and the rubber industry as Harvey Firestone. The Ohio native founded the tire company that bore his name in 1900 at the age of 32 and over several decades developed it into what would become a multi-billion dollar corporation. Firestone lived most of his life in Akron, but passed away in Florida in 1938.

In 1950 Firestone Tire and Rubber decided to celebrate their fiftieth anniversary by creating and dedicating a large statue of their founder on the company’s campus. The imposing bronze sculpture, which sits in a beautiful memorial rotunda, would make a great Interesting Akron post on its own, but a 2000 Beacon Journal article by David Giffels revealed it secret origin and cemented its place in local lore.

Firestone Engineer John Moore hired artist James Earle Fraser to create the monument in his Rhode Island foundry. As the dedication ceremony approached Moore discovered that Fraser wasn’t going to complete his work in time. Fraser offered one solution: Create a plaster replica of the statue using the original cast and paint it bronze.

On August 3, 1950 the statue was unveiled to the Firestone family, employees, photojournalists (including one from Life Magazine), and hundreds of attendees. Luckily the event was a success and no one questioned the figure’s authenticity. When the final artwork was complete the memorial site was covered with a tent and the bronze was put in its rightful place. Moore kept the head of the plaster replica for many years, but eventually decided to destroy it and discard the remains.

More than sixty years later Firestone’s likeness still casts its gaze on the entrance of what is now the Bridgestone tech center. It can be seen at a distance from Main Street but the best view is from the Bridgestone Parking lot.

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