RALEIGH, N.C. — A statue of Raleigh's namesake, Sir Walter Raleigh, hasn't been seen in the city limits for nearly two years. Now, state officials and local history enthusiasts are pushing for his return.
“I think it's time for him to come back,” said downtown worker Tamsie Hughes. “After all, we named the city after him,”
In April 2005, the statue was taken to Cincinnati to be refurbished. It’s been ready to return to Raleigh for six months, but city officials said they aren’t ready.
“Because we are proud of him, we want exactly the right place to put him,” Raleigh City Attorney Tom McCormick said.
The state owns the 11-foot Sir Walter Raleigh likeness, but it is on permanent loan to the city. So, it's up to the city to decide where he should go.
State officials said the process of cleaning up a statue and returning it usually takes months, not years, and they are getting somewhat impatient for its return.
“It's property of the state, a symbol of the capital of North Carolina. I think people are anxious to see it restored so they can visit it,” said Jeffrey Crow, deputy secretary of the state Office of Archives and History.
City officials said that with all the construction downtown, it was hard to envision a place for the statue that would attract a lot of visitors. With a shell of the new convention center up, they now believe it could stand nicely on a corner there. They've asked architects to come up with some possibilities.
The city is also considering bringing the statue back and placing it in a temporary location, like Memorial Auditorium, until a final location is chosen. When the city picks a location, the North Carolina Historical Commission must approve it.
Raleigh Mayor Charles Meeker told WRAL Friday that he thinks the process has taken too long. He said he will try to expedite the statue’s return by talking at the City Council meeting next Tuesday about options for displaying it.