CINCINNATI -- The six unique limestone bas-relief sporting figures at the Cincinnati Gardens building will soon find a new home.
While the last of the letters of the main Gardens sign were removed by Friday afternoon and will be formally donated to the American Sign Museum next week, the six sculptures are looking for a new home.
The sculptures, which are five feet wide and six feet, eight inches tall, were designed by the late Henry Mott. The figures flanked each side of the main entrance since the arena was built in 1949. There are two figures each of a boxer, basketball and hockey player.
Two of those figures were removed this week by O’Rourke Wrecking Company. The sculptures were the result of a design competition held in 1948 by the Art Academy of Cincinnati and the Cincinnati Gardens’ architect/engineering firm A.M. Kinney of Cincinnati.
Mott, who died May 7, 1999, started Mott Studios Downtown before he moved it to Mount Adams and to Walnut Hills. He was a longtime Hyde Park resident. John Peckskamp, the grandson of Mott, is working to have the sculptures removed safely from the building and to find a home to store them until the new locations are found.
Peckskamp, who lives in Loveland, has set up a Go Fund Me account to raise fund for steel transport/storage structures as well as funds to build the display structure.
Preserving the sculptures is a labor of love of sorts for Peckskamp. He plans to donate a boxing figure to Buddy LaRosa for the Cincinnati Golden Gloves boxing academy in Over-the-Rhine. He has a basketball player and hockey player available. He plans to keep a set of three together.
“I am also speaking to the Cincinnati Recreation Commission on the possibility to place a set of three somewhere at Lunken Airport in some sort of pedestal display,” Peckskamp said. “That being said, nothing is set up at this time.”
The arena hosted countless sporting events and concerts along with comedians, symphony orchestras, Broadway-style musicals, political rallies, roller derby, circuses, dog shows, dirt track auto racing and faith events. Countless spectators saw those figures as they entered the arena.
“We want to preserve them as do many people in the art community,” Peckskamp said. “I have been working with the Art Academy of Cincinnati on a few things, but any other interest from the public would be welcome.”