Retro Charlotte

Johnny Doughboy

“That American doughboy rising out of high grass to meet an attack by Charlotte skyscrapers isn't really in much danger. He rests securely in a plot next to Park Center, a memorial to the American Soldier of World War I.” 1962
“That American doughboy rising out of high grass to meet an attack by Charlotte skyscrapers isn't really in much danger. He rests securely in a plot next to Park Center, a memorial to the American Soldier of World War I.” 1962 The Charlotte Observer

The Johnny Doughboy statue stood for decades near Park Center (now Grady Cole Center) but was moved in the 1970s to its current location on the lawn at the City Hall building on Fourth Street.

Charlotte News reporter Jane Lisenby explained the move in June, 1975:

"After 50 years of battling weather and pranksters, Johnny Doughboy, Charlotte's monument to local World War I veterans, emerged last week from 10 months of rest, relaxation and a major repair to await the move to his new home.

"Johnny Doughboy, now fitted out with a new rifle and left hand, will be placed somewhere on the lawn of City Hall...

"Over the years vandals splashed it with paint, broke off the grenade arm, stole the bayonet and rifle and ripped off fingers from one hand... ‘All I wanted was to get it put on a front street, in a public place, well-lighted and well-policed, and to keep children off the statue,' said Willis Griffin a member of American Legion's Hornets' Nest Post No. 9, the post that raised the money for the statue...

“That way, Griffin said, ‘It will be there for history to come. Also, if City Hall is moved, then that monument must follow it, because it belongs to us, the people. We wanted it put where people could see it, and know that it stands for all the veterans of all wars.’

“Ever since the council agreed to restore the statue, the city had received many suggestions as to where it should be located once repaired. They ranged from Freedom Park to City Hall to where it had been since 1928, on N. Kings Dr. near Park Center. The statue was erected in the early 1920s by the Mecklenburg Council of the American Legion and was placed in front of the old County Courthouse on S. Tryon St.”

Maria is the Observer’s librarian.

More at charlotteobserver.com/news/local/news-columns-blogs/retro-charlotte

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