Maggie Walker statue ready for dedication on her July 15 birthday

7/7/2017, 1:06 p.m.
It has been two decades in the making.
Workers lay the stonework in April for the plaza at Broad and Adams streets where the statue of Richmond pioneer Maggie L. Walker will be placed.

It has been two decades in the making.

Now Richmond is just days way from dedicating its new bronze statue to businesswoman Maggie L. Walker in Downtown.

The city announced the statue will be unveiled 10 a.m. Saturday, July 15, the anniversary of the birth of the nation’s first African-American woman to charter a bank and serve as its chief executive officer.

Location: Broad and Adams streets, the gateway to Jackson Ward, at the new plaza where the statue will stand.

Richmond Mayor Levar M. Stoney will lead the dedication with members of the city’s Public Arts Commission. Dignitaries are to include the sculptor, Antonio “Toby” Mendez of Maryland, and descendants of Mrs. Walker.

Following the ceremony, the National Park Service plans to conduct walking tours of Jackson Ward, focusing on Ms. Walker’s contributions.

Mrs. Walker’s home at 110½ E. Leigh St., now a Park Service National Historic Site, also will be open for tours starting from the visitors’ center at 600 N. 2nd St.

Mrs. Walker took over the failing Independent Order of St. Luke in 1899 and turned the mutual insurance group around with an ambitious program of business development.

In 1903, she won a government charter to open the St. Luke Penny Savings Bank as an arm of the order. The bank later was renamed Consolidated Bank & Trust Co., and is now a branch of Premier Bank of Huntington, W.Va.

The installation of the statue will cap a 20-year effort to create a public tribute to Mrs. Walker.

Former Mayor Dwight C. Jones is credited with making it happen, with the approval of Richmond City Council and the city Planning Commission.

Mayor Jones pushed to use public funds after at least two failed efforts since the mid-1990s to make it happen with private donations.

Work on the plaza and the statue was underway when Mayor Jones left office on Dec. 31.

The city invested $300,000 for the statue through the Public Arts Commission and $600,000 in creating the plaza. — JEREMY M. LAZARUS