Stag statue to be unveiled on Mulberry Street

A new deer stag statue was installed on Mulberry Street the morning of Oct. 30, 2017. An unveiling is set for Oct. 31 at 10 a.m.
A new deer stag statue was installed on Mulberry Street the morning of Oct. 30, 2017. An unveiling is set for Oct. 31 at 10 a.m. lcorley@macon.com

The empty granite pedestal across from the Cannonball House on Mulberry Street has gone largely unnoticed for the last quarter century.

The 8-foot bronze elk that was anchored there for 51 years was uprooted in 1990.

On Monday, a new statue took its place.

Workers were out planting shrubs, laying pine straw around the new a stag statue, which was promptly shrouded with a plastic blue tarp secured with purple bows.

A bronze plaque on the pedestal reads: “Art returned to this place October 2017.”

Jan Beeland, executive director of the Macon Arts Alliance, was among about four people who had gathered around the new landmark Monday morning.

An unveiling ceremony is set for 10 a.m. Tuesday, she said.

“It has been a great collaboration,” Beeland said, adding that the stag’s name is Art. “He looks pretty majestic up there.”

The statue, which Beeland said is an antique from North Carolina, was paid for with a $15,000 grant from the Community Foundation of Central Georgia. The art alliance received a Downtown Challenge Grant, funded by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, to pay for it in May.

The money also helped pay for landscaping and lighting around the statue.

The Elks Club

The stag is anchored outside of what used to be the Benevolent and Protected Order of Elks building at 841 Mulberry St.

The building was sold in November 1989 at a foreclosure auction after the club’s charter was revoked.

Months later, a group of Elks Club representatives came down from Decatur and took the statue, which had been stripped of its antlers, legs and tail. The bronze elk was loaded onto a truck and taken to Atlanta, where it sat in a warehouse until it was destroyed. There were plans to give it to a children’s hospital, but the metal was too soft and could not be welded back together.

Before it was installed at Mulberry Street in 1941, the elk statue was a longtime a landmark at Second Street and Cotton Avenue.

There’s a reason the new statue is a deer and not an elk.

In 1972, at the national Elks Club convention in Chicago, officials voted 3-1 to remove word “white” from the Elks’ constitution and statues as a condition for membership, a rule that had been in place for 105 years.

The policy change occurred not long after the federal government took away the tax-exempt status of fraternal organizations that exclude non-whites.

The local club’s officials told The Telegraph in 1973 that the edict likely wouldn’t affect membership in Macon.

The new statue of a stag “will represent the area’s indigenous wildlife as he towers over the small, diagonal park, proudly displaying an impressive sculpted rack with a nod” to Macon’s expansive natural resources, according to a recent news release from the Macon Arts Alliance.

“This is about the future,” Beeland said. “It was a statue (of an elk) but we’re moving forward.”

Information from Telegraph archives was used in this article.

Laura Corley: 478-744-4334, @Lauraecor