By ZEINAB NAJM
DEARBORN — The statue honoring former Mayor Orville Hubbard was removed from the former City Hall campus Sept. 29.
“We are relocating the Hubbard statue because we no longer own the property at City Hall Park on which it stood” Public Information Director Mary Laundroche said. “It was convenient to move the statue today, as our DPW crews were doing construction and electrical work for the part of City Hall Park we still control.”
The non-profit Artspace bought the former City Hall complex in 2013 for $1.65 million to create 53 apartment units made up of affordable live and work space for artists and their families.
“As part of the sale of City Hall in 2014, we agreed to move the statue, as well as the War Memorial, from the portion of the park property that Artspace now owns,” Laundroche said.
Studios, co-working space for entrepreneurs and artists, incubator space, creative businesses, a live-and-work unit for an artist-in-residency program, and galleries will also be included in the $16.5 million project.
“We sold City Hall and a portion of City Hall Park to Artspace for an exciting new project that will generate economic activity and bring customers into the east Dearborn downtown and draw even more visitors to Dearborn when it opens in 2016,” Laundroche said. “They are creating live, work and exhibit space for artists, the first in Michigan and their 35th successful project in the United States.”
The 10-foot statue of Hubbard was first displayed in 1989. The statue was created through a grassroots fundraising campaign. It also included small donations from residents who wanted to recognize Hubbard’s contributions to city.
Hubbard served as mayor from 1942 through 1978 during which he helped build Camp Dearborn and kept the city clean and safe.
He was also know for his thoughts on segregation and use of racial slurs.
The American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee Michigan Regional Office called for the removal of the state in July, about the time of the church shooting in Charleston, S.C., in which the shooter supported the Confederate flag.
Attorney and ADC-Michigan Director Fatina Abdrabboh said she was glad the statue was removed and will still be part of the city’s history.
“Dearborn has grown as a city since Hubbard’s time as mayor, and our statues should reflect that,” she said. “Moving the statue to the museum is a great move because we shouldn’t forget our history completely. We should learn from it instead.”
A new location for the the Hubbard statue has not been finalized.
“The statue will be relocated to the Dearborn Historical Museum campus, although a final site has not been determined,” Laundroche said. “Importantly, this will give us a chance to present Mayor Hubbard in a broader historical context than existed at City Hall Park.”
(Zeinab Najm can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org)