Stephen Foster statue

Pittsburgh’s Stephen Foster statue will be taken down by April

The controversial statue will then be relocated.

stephenfoster
Colin Deppen / The Incline
MJ Slaby

Pittsburgh’s controversial Stephen Foster statue will be removed by April, city spokesperson Tim McNulty confirmed to The Incline today.

That timeline follows recommendations made by the city’s Art Commission in October, after weeks of debate and discussion about the statue. At that meeting, the commission recommended the statue be removed within six months and that a new home be identified within a year of its removal.

Mayor Bill Peduto had final say over the statue’s fate, and McNulty said the plan remains to follow the recommendation.

When the statue is removed, the Department of Public Works will house it.

The art commission is working to identify “a permanent next home for the statue and are in the midst of searching for that,” McNulty said, though commission representatives could not immediately be reached for comment.

The Foster statue sits near the University of Pittsburgh campus on Forbes Avenue in Oakland, however, emails obtained by The Incline in October showed that Pitt and Carnegie Museums were reluctant to take the statue as recently as August.

Commissioned in 1900 by a local newspaper editor, the statue shows a Foster (who was white) above a black, banjo-playing man in tattered clothes who is believed to a character from the Foster songs “Old Uncle Ned” or “Old Black Joe.” It’s been contentious for decades, but recent discussions started in August following violent clashes in Charlottesville, Va. that were in part, sparked by the planned removal of a monument to Confederate General Robert E. Lee there.

In September, the Art Commission and city launched a weeks-long solicitation of expert and public input on what to do, if anything, with the statue.

Reporter Colin Deppen contributed to this article.

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