Murray Hill to crown its entrance with iconic sculpture

“Reawakening” is the name of a steel sculpture destined for Murray Hill.

“Reawakening” is the name of a steel sculpture destined for Murray Hill.

The big news of the evening at the Murray Hill Preservation Association’s quarterly meeting July 9 was the introduction of the proposed new neighborhood marker at Edgewood Avenue and Plymouth Street.

Currently, the neighborhood landmark, which some refer to as “the tombstone” is a small gray stone on a low brick pillar, often overlooked by passers-by. The MHPA wanted to rectify the inadvertent oversight by installing something more representative of the creative community that Murray Hill has become. During the past four to five years, the historic neighborhood has seen a variety of murals and mosaics installed on more than a dozen buildings.

“MHPA was looking to create an iconic piece to help act as a landmark for the neighborhood,” said Jason Tetlak, MHPA president. “The inspiration for the design was the Great Fire that destroyed downtown [in 1901]. People who were displaced by the fire needed someplace to go, which contributed to the founding of Murray Hill.”

The sculpture was designed by Jen Hager, a professor of sculpture in the Department of Art & Design at the University of North Florida, and her husband, Lance Vickery, a sculpture instructor, also at UNF.

“The idea behind the sculpture, titled ‘Reawakening,’ is about rebirth and refers to Murray Hill’s growth and revitalization after the fire. It will be made of stainless steel, 10-feet tall and it will take approximately three months to complete,” said Hager.

Tetlak said the sculpture will also include LED lights, which will be interactive via an app that will change the colors of the lights, powered by a solar panel.

The total cost of the sculpture and installation, including repairs and updates for the median, is approximately $14,000, and the City of Jacksonville provided $5,000 in a matching grant, said Tetlak at the quarterly meeting, held at El Jefe restaurant.

Although improvements had been made to the medians in the first block of Edgewood Avenue in 2004, the plants needed to be replaced and the control panel for the irrigation system in the first median had been stolen. The plan was to prep the beds and plant by the end of July but avid gardeners at the meeting suggested waiting until the weather was cooler to avoid scorching the plants before they had a chance to root.

The neighborhood association has targeted early October for the installation of the sculpture so that it is complete before the 2nd Annual Murray Hill-o-Ween, which is planned for Sunday, Oct. 28.

By Kate A. Hallock
Resident Community News

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