Florida Accepting Nominations For New Statuary Hall Representation
Nominations are being taken for the next representatives of Florida in the National Statuary Hall.
The collection of one hundred statues — two from each state — is housed in the Capitol Rotunda in Washington D.C. Florida’s current representatives are Dr. John Gorrie, credited with inventing refrigeration and air conditioning, and General Edmund Kirby Smith, “an army officer and an educator,” according to the Architect of the Capitol’s website.
However, at the time of the statue’s installment, the general was held in high regard for his role in leading the last surrendering Confederate force. The Florida Legislature voted to replace Smith’s statue after last year’s racially-charged shootings in Charleston, South Carolina. Gorrie's statue is also up for selection.
Besides his confederate ties, Smith was born and raised in St. Augustine but left Florida at the age of 12.
The new nominees should be individuals who have set the course for Florida’s history, according to the website of the Great Floridian Program Committee tasked with making the decision. Besides this, the only other criteria are that he or she must have been a Florida resident and must now be deceased. Some notable Floridians who fit this bill include railroad tycoon Henry Flagler, writer Zora Neale Hurston, or protector of the Everglades Marjory Stoneman Douglas.
Dexter Smith, who lives near the Jacksonville airport, said he would pick a name familiar in Duval County. “Andrew Jackson. … I know that’s what they named Jacksonville after,” Smith said.
Southside resident Heather Gosendi gave a nod to the state’s earlier history. “I would say Ponce de Leon, since he came here and founded it. Or maybe a (Native American) tribal leader, like Osceola.”
But it’s tricky territory, Gosendi said. “Either way, you’re probably going to hurt people’s feelings, you can’t really go one way or the other.”
Florida residents can submit their own nominations June 10 on the committee's website.
Written recommendations can be sent to the Division of Historical Resources at the following address:
Division of Historical Resources; ATTN: National Statuary Hall; 3rd Floor, R.A. Gray Building; 500 South Bronough Street, Tallahassee, FL 32399-0250.