Flagler statue clears first hurdle in Legislatureby John Kennedy | December 11th, 2013
A measure aimed at allowing a privately funded statue of railroad baron Henry Flagler to go up at the Florida Capitol cleared its first committee hearing Friday in the Florida Senate.
The legislation (SB 250) by Sen. Joe Abruzzo, D-Wellington, was approved by the Governmental Oversight and Accountability Committee on an 8-0 vote. But the bill still has a long way to go in both the Senate and House, where its sponsor is Rep. Bill Hager, R-Boca Raton.
“Indeed, not many individuals have had a greater impact or long-lasting impact on Florida than Henry Flagler,” Abruzzo told the panel.
The effort is backed by Palm Beach’s Flagler Museum, whose director, John Blades, has said he envisions a life-sized bronze statue on a black granite base similar to one erected in 2010 on Royal Poinciana Way. Blades told the Palm Beach Post he expected the statue to cost about $75,000, which he said could be easily raised once the legislation is approved.
“We wouldn’t have the state we have today without Henry Flagler,” Abruzzo said following the hearing. “He is the father of Miami, and yet Jacksonville all the way to the west, he’s well regarded. It’d be hard to go to any part of the state and not find some area that should recognize Flagler and his accomplishments.”
If approved, the Flagler statue would stand out on the state Capitol grounds, which has been mostly kept free of monuments.
There’s one statue for slain law enforcement officers; a small marker honoring Martin Luther King; a monument to Confederate soldiers from Tallahassee’s Leon County; and the oldest memorial, from 1861, to Capt. John Parkhill, killed in 1857 while leading a charge against the Seminole Indians.