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Central District’s ‘Soul Pole’ to be taken down and, hopefully, restored

(Image: City of Seattle)

Another landmark of public art is set for work officials hope will help to keep it part of its neighborhood. The Soul Pole, a 21-foot wooden sculpture that has stood outside the Central District’s Douglass-Truth Branch of the Seattle Public Library for nearly 50 years, must come down for work to figure out how best to save the creation:

The 21-foot wooden sculpture, gifted to the Library in 1972 by the Seattle Rotary Boys Club, was carved by six young community artists in the late 1960s to honor 400 years of African American history and the struggle for justice in the United States. The Library will work with Artech Fine Art Services, an organization with extensive experience in the restoration and preservation of artwork, to deinstall the piece and transport it to an art storage facility, where an extensive assessment will be performed.

The library is also trying to learn more about the creation of the 23rd at Yesler pole:

According to documents from the late 1960s and early 1970s, the Soul Pole was created in 1969 as part of a summer arts festival associated with the Model Cities Program to bring attention to African American history. It was installed at the Yesler Branch Library just two years before it was renamed the Douglass-Truth Branch, after Frederick Douglass and Sojourner Truth.

SPL is interested in finding and contacting the artists in order to learn more about the artwork and its history. Contact Andrew Harbison, the Library’s interim director of Programs & Services, at andrew.harbison@spl.org if you can help.

Meanwhile, work is also underway in Cal Anderson to keep the Capitol Hill park’s water fountain from crumbling.


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