Katherine Hayes was more than happy to tell “Abraham Lincoln” about the concept of a “selfie,” and then pose for one with the nation’s 16th president.
It wasn’t really Lincoln, of course, but nationally known impersonator George Buss who politely complied with Hayes’ request during Sunday’s opening of the Sculptures on the Square exhibit.
The 2015 version of the sculptures project, held biannually since 2003, features “Return Visit,” the monumental 30-foot tall bronze sculpture of Lincoln and a modern day man discussing the Gettysburg Address.
Hayes, Troy Main Street’s executive director, explained that the sculptures project mission is to bring public art to the community to enjoy.
The “Return Visit” opening attracted a crowd to the Miami County Courthouse Plaza, where the 40,000-pound Seward Johnson sculpture will be on display for the next six months.
When the sculptures committee decided to bring more of Johnson’s work to the city – his life-life sculptures graced the Public Square and downtown area in 2003, 2005 and 2013 – it selected a monumental piece. The question then became where the piece should be displayed.
When the county commissioners were approached about the Courthouse lawn, the project was on its way. Hayes said organizers are “absolutely thrilled” the sculpture is just outside the 1880s Courthouse.
Commission John “Bud” O’Brien said the request to use the lawn made for an “easy decision” by the commission. The location is a logical place, he said, adding, “It is quite an honor to have this.”
Troy Mayor Mike Beamish talked about the history of the sculptures program, which also has included decorated WACO airplanes and doors. “We welcome Abraham Lincoln and his friend to Troy, Ohio, and Miami County,” he said.
Miami County author Scott Trostel, whose books include “The Lincoln Funeral Train,” said Sunday was the 150th anniversary of the return of Lincoln’s remains to Springfield, Ill., following his assassination in Washington, D.C., by John Wilkes Booth.
Days before, the funeral train passed through Miami County, stopping at the Piqua depot for a memorial service before heading off early the next day for Indianapolis.
“While Lincoln stands behind me memorialized, he stands for a lot of words,” Trostel said.
Lincoln impersonator Buss began reciting the Gettysburg Address as he made his way down the steps on the Courthouse’s south side dressed in black and wearing a stovepipe hat. A sixth generation Illinoisan, Buss stands tall at 6 foot 4 inches, similar to the president.