City working to replace Terra Cotta lion

Published: Sep. 9, 2008 at 9:08 PM EDT|Updated: Sep. 12, 2008 at 5:03 PM EDT
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Just the feet of the winged Terra Cotta red lion are all that's left of the statue. The rest is...
Just the feet of the winged Terra Cotta red lion are all that's left of the statue. The rest is in pieces.

By Brooke Kelley - bio | email

SAVANNAH, GA (WTOC) - It's a historic part of Savannah's history and up until two weeks ago, the red Terra Cotta lion sat right in front of the Cotton Exchange on Bay street. For more than 100 years, the famous winged lion was a landmark for both Savannahians and tourists.

Now the city is hoping they can put it back together after a driver lost control of her car and hitting it, leaving the statue in pieces. See Car slams into building, destroys statue downtown.

For two weeks, locals and tourists alike have been looking at just the feet of the once famous winged Terra Cotta red lion perched on to the edge of the fountain. The rest of the statue is in pieces.

86-year-old Dedrick Waters has many fond memories of the historic landmark and like many, hopes the city can find a way to replace it.

"They had a fence around it and a garden it was very nice," said Waters.

The red winged lion was given to the city in 1889 by members of the Exchange Club and for 120 years it sat in front of the building, in the heart of the city.

Glenda Anderson is the director of library services for the city and she says she's spent the last two weeks researching the history of the lion. The biggest problem is the company that manufactured it is no longer in business.

"Is there another red lion anywhere in the United States that we can find? That's what we are looking for, to get those records, we are looking for the records those historical archives and historical records or museum might have about the Perth Amboy Terra Cotta company that might tell us who they sold these things to," said Anderson.

Replacement is one option, rebuilding is another. Parks and tree director David White says the city already hired a consultant to see if it can be done.

"He thinks he can piece it together enough to make a mold cast and then make a new piece out of a different material," said White.

People like Waters hope so. "I hope they can repair it," said Waters.

For now, the city is asking everyone to be patient. They are doing whatever they can to restore the historic statue that means so much to so many.

Back in 1889 when the Cotton Exchange purchased the statue, they only paid $172 for it. Just a few years ago the city fixed the wing tips on the lion and that cost around $20,000.

So far no charges have been filed for the woman driving the car. Police are still waiting for toxicology results, which may not be in for several weeks.