Sculptor Larry Anderson attended
Lincoln High School in Tacoma, Wash., where he edited
the school newspaper and where a statue of Abraham
Lincoln by Alonzo Victor Lewis is one of the most
When his daughter was born, on Lincoln's birthday,
there were five other Lincoln High graduates in the
waiting room with him. And on Saturday, he was scheduled
to attend the 45th anniversary of his Lincoln High
"Lincoln's been a part of my life for a long time,"
Anderson said in a telephone interview last week.
That's why it was a special pleasure for the
Washington-based sculptor to be commissioned to create a
life-sized bronze depiction of the Lincoln family that
will one day grace the grounds of the Old Capitol Plaza
in downtown Springfield.
"I'm thrilled and honored at the opportunity," he
The $210,000 sculpture will be the highlight of a
series of 20 outdoor exhibits, part of a program titled
"Here I Have Lived," that is designed to explain
Lincoln's life during his nearly 25 years in
Springfield. The $769,000 program is being funded by the
city of Springfield, largely through a state grant.
Other exhibits will be display boards set on steel
posts around downtown that will interpret sites
important to Lincoln's life in Springfield, such as his
law office and the barbershop where he spent time
hanging out with friends.
Anderson is working on a life-sized clay and
steel-rebar model of the sculpture, which shows Lincoln
on his way from his law office to the Capitol to deliver
a speech, pausing while his wife, Mary, adjusts his
clothes. His son, Willie, is waving goodbye to his
brother, Robert, who is leaving the family group on his
way to school.
"It's a made-up moment in time ... that probably
didn't happen," but which represents the Lincolns'
day-to-day activities in the years before Lincoln ran
for presidency, Anderson said.
"I'm trying to reflect the effect Springfield and
Mary and his law practice had on him," Anderson said.
"All of which worked toward polishing him for the task
ahead. ... My effort is to reflect a sense of optimism,
sort of a can-do attitude, rather than the looking down,
reflective, carrying-the-weight-of-the-world (image of
Lincoln) that was the effect of the (Civil) War."
Anderson said he did considerable research on
Lincoln, reading books and studying photographs, in
order to make the sculpture as accurate as possible. He
said it's difficult getting the appearance just right,
partly because some aspects of Lincoln - the back of his
head and shape of his skull, for example - are not shown
in any photo.
Getting the right look for the clothing Lincoln and
his family would have worn also is difficult, Anderson
Anderson said he is only about half done with the
life-sized clay model. When it is finished, it will be
used in what's called the "lost wax" process to create a
wax mold, which will then be used to make a ceramic mold
to cast the parts of the figures in bronze. The parts
will be assembled, detailed and polished to create the
The final sculpture will be assembled and installed
in front of the Old State Capitol, probably in late
spring of 2004, Anderson said. The sculpture will be
installed in such a way that people will be able to
touch and interact with it, and even pose for pictures
with the Lincoln family, he said.
"The setting of the Old State Capitol is wonderful,"
Anderson said. "Most of my work is hands-on so people
can be a part of it one-on-one. The site setting is
perfect for that approach. It's an inviting sort of a
Doug Pokorski can be reached at 788-1539 or