Doughboy Molded History for Statue in Front of City Hall
The story of how the city came to own the statue in front of city hall.
If it weren't for the efforts of Mayor Karen Fritschel and the community's $16,000 in donations 14 years ago, the doughboy statue where residents honor military and safety personnel might not be there.
"For a lot of people, [the statue] is a way of honoring all the different people in the U.S. Armed Forces," she said.
Most recently, the statue was the site for the second annual Christmas Luminary event to honor fallen fire and police officers in the area Dec. 18.
It's been 14 years since the reproduction of the original doughboy statue came back home to City Hall.
The imposing 4-foot-tall, bronze statue is of a World War I soldier, also known as a doughboy or sentry, with a pair of binoculars, to watch over the city, the mayor said.
Stow Historical Society President John Baranek said the symbolism of the doughboy should "remind us that we should take the time in our lives to thank the servicemen and women for their dedication and time in putting their lives in jeopardy while servicing our country," he said.
Not the first doughboy statue
The sentry that stands on the corner of Graham Road and state Route 91 is not the original statue that was first brought to the city in the 1920s, said Frtischel.
The statue was first donated to the city by an Akron jailer who lived in Stow, near Meadowbrooke Lane, after World War I.
"People were going around [the Akron area] with the statue of a sentry and selling [fake] deeds to oil fields to World War I veterans" after the war, said Fritschel.
The culprits were arrested and put behind bars and the jailer, not knowing what to do with the sculpture, took it home, she said.
Eventually, the jailer donated it to the city during World War II when it was placed in front of the former city hall, which is in the same location as the current city hall, 3760 Darrow Rd.
When the city decided to widen Graham Road for the first time, the statue had to be moved, Fritschel said.
Unfortunately, as crews began to move the sentry, it cracked at the knees and its legs broke off, she said. The remaining pieces of the statue were put in the city's sanctorium.
In the 1990s when the mayor was still on the city council, she said she received several telephone calls from residents questioning why the sentry wasn't at his post.
"People kept saying, 'I miss seeing the doughboy on the corner,'" she said. "So, I spearheaded that project [to get a new statue]. I thought it would be good for the city to have the statue again."
As the effort to reinstall the statue gained momentum, "donations started pouring in," Fritschel said. "We raised more than $16,000 to do this."
After enough money was raised, Fritschel said she began to look for a sculptor and a resident referred Mark Olitsky, a local sculptor who also made the well-known Bob Feller statue that is next to Progressive Field in downtown Cleveland.
"There aren't many people who do metal sculptures," she said. "We were lucky to find him, but we couldn't find the legs. So, Mark crafted his own set of legs for the new statue."
The statue was finished by Olitsky and dedicated at city hall on Veterans Day in 1996, she said.
The statue is cleaned once a year so it doesn't tarnish, and people still visit the statue and place flags around the area during the more patriotic holidays.