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Scandal, recognition for Samuel Kirkwood statue sculptor

By Kevin Squires
On October 1, 2012

 

The 25th of this month marked the birth date of a little-known contributor to Kirkwood Community College.

Lavinnia "Vinnie" Ream Hoxie was the artist responsible for the design of the Samuel Kirkwood statue that stands at the main entrance to the Cedar Rapids campus.

Although her name is seldom known now, Hoxie enjoyed celebrity status in her day for her work as an artist. She was the first woman, and to this day the youngest at the age of 18, to receive a grant to build a statue for the federal government.

Born in Wisconsin and later residing in Iowa City, she was selected to create a statue of President Abraham Lincoln. Upon meeting her, Lincoln said he liked her because she came from humble beginnings.

Hoxie also met other dignitaries, such as President Ulysses Grant and a former Pope.

She was a polarizing figure with many admirers and dissenters alike. There is still speculation about the role she may have played in the failed impeachment of President Andrew Johnson in 1868.

In 1906 Hoxie made a statue of former Iowa governor Samuel Kirkwood for the federal government.

Upon her death in 1914, the University of Iowa held the first moment of silence for a woman. Hoxie was also honored with a large funeral in Washington, D.C., where many of her works are still on display.

Following the death of her only son in 1927, her house in Iowa City was cleaned out, which led to the discovery of a still in tact plaster model of the Samuel Kirkwood statue. The decision was made to make a copy of the model for the new Old Capitol Center in Iowa City.

This copy was eventually given to KCC in the mid-1970s.

 The statue was a fixture in the Linn Hall lobby until it was moved this summer to stand guard on the roundabout.


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