Submitted by Suanne Z. Thamm
Reporter – News Analyst
June 10, 2014 5:55 p.m.
On Monday, June 9, 2014, at 12:00 p.m. members of the Amelia Island Fernandina Restoration Foundation held their collective breaths as the long-awaited bronze statue of David Levy Yulee was delivered and placed in its permanent location outside the Centre Street historic train depot. Sharing both the tension and the excitement were the sculptor, Susan Luery and depot rehabilitation contractor Clayton Buchanan. As Luery and Restoration Foundation President Adam Kaufman pondered the statue’s permanent placement on a cement pad in front of the depot, several curious tourists also stopped by to have their photos taken with the yet-to-be unveiled statue.
Once the statue’s location was finalized, it was quickly hidden from view until the official unveiling at noon on Thursday, June 12, which coincidentally happens to be the 204th anniversary of Yulee’s birth. The public is invited to attend the ceremony. Additionally sculptor Susan Luery will be speaking at the Amelia Island Museum of History the night before the unveiling. The public is also invited to this event, which is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. on June 11. Luery will explain the creative process and technical work that went into creating the Yulee statue.
The statue is a gift to the city from the Amelia Island Fernandina Restoration Foundation, which paid for the statue and associated expenses, as part of its contribution to the restoration of the historic Centre Street train depot. The depot restoration process is still in progress using funds contributed by the Amelia Island Tourist Development Council, the City of Fernandina Beach, and the Restoration Foundation. The city’s share of cost of the restoration project was funded from the so-called Forward Fernandina loan, the same source for the city’s share of the library expansion project. Additionally, the Amelia Island Museum of History has partnered in preparing an educational exhibit, which will reside inside the depot upon completion of the restoration project.
Although David Levy Yulee (1810-1886) has been called the Father of Florida Statehood and the Father of Florida Railroads, there is no other known statue of the former United States Senator in existence. To his other credits can also be added the creation of the city we know today as Fernandina Beach, the Atlantic terminus of Yulee’s Florida Railroad, which ran from Cedar Key to Fernandina Beach.
Note that details of the statue have been intentionally blurred to pique your curiosity!
Editor’s Note: Suanne Z. Thamm is a native of Chautauqua County, NY, who moved to Fernandina Beach from Alexandria,VA, in 1994. As a long time city resident and city watcher, she provides interesting insight into the many issues that impact our city. We are grateful for Suanne’s many contributions to the Fernandina Observer.