What happened to the popular Hugh McManaway statue that graced a prominent Myers Park intersection for 17 years?
That’s what residents concerned about the 4-foot bronze statue want to know. People loved decorating the landmark at Charlotte’s Queens and Providence roads with veils, signs and trimmings to celebrate local weddings, anniversaries and other events.
But drivers occasionally smashed into the statue. It memorializes an eccentric who wore a yellow raincoat and waved a white towel while “directing” traffic at the intersection in the 1960s and ’70s.
A car hit the statue again earlier this fall, and it was taken to a city of Charlotte warehouse until it can be restored, said Quin Hall, who heads the city’s Landscape Management Division.
Efforts by the city to reach the sculptor were unsuccessful, so the city is working with the Arts & Science Council to help find a metal worker to restore it, Hall said. Until then, the damaged statue will remain in the warehouse, he said.
Among those concerned about the statue’s whereabouts was Ivan Mothershead, who once lived on Queens Road near McManaway and ate with him at the former Townhouse restaurant, where a Harris Teeter now stands.
Mothershead, 69, said McManaway would give out tiny Bibles at the restaurant until 5 p.m. and then go out to wave traffic along with his towel. The intersection had a traffic signal back then, too, but McManaway wanted to make sure drivers saw it was time to move, he said. “If you didn’t get going, he’d wave the towel,” he said.
McManaway, who died in 1989, also played the musical saw and often spoke in rhyme, according to a 2015 Charlotte Observer article: “I’m Hugh Pharr McManaway. I work for pleasure and not for pay.”
“He was a town fixture,” Mothershead said of McManaway, who lived alone.
Hugh McColl, former chairman and CEO of Bank of America, and several women who live in the area raised money for the statue, according to Mothershead. The statue went up in 2000.
“It’s one of the coolest things when I think about Charlotte, that they built a statue for him,” Mothershead said Tuesday.
The statue “is one of those things we take great pride in,” Mothershead said. “We got to get Hugh back.”