Public Art Adds to Downtown Sculpture Trail and Honors Two Strong Rutland Women
19 October 2019
RUTLAND, Vt. – Rutland enhanced its downtown sculpture trail today with the unveiling of a seven-foot-tall marble sculpture of Revolutionary War hero Ann Story. The work of art stands near the intersection of West Street and Cottage Street.
Ann Story, with help from her son Solomon, spied for Ethan Allen during the Revolutionary War. The sculpture features them peering from a doorway, an ax in Solomon’s hands, pensive looks on their faces as they gaze in opposite directions. It was designed by Amanda Sisk and carved by Evan Morse and Taylor Apostol.
“It was an honor to participate in this project, both for commemorating the life of Ann Story and for its addition to Rutland’s public arts,” Morse said. “Ann Story is such a compelling, heroic figure from Vermont’s history. It’s great that she will now have such a visible monument right in downtown Rutland.”
The statue honors that history, and the memory of another strong Rutland woman, Evelyn Gammons Costello, as it was paid for by descendants of Costello. Both women were widowed – Story with five children during the Revolutionary War era, Costello with seven children and pregnant with twins as the Great depression began. Both persevered through incredible odds and became role models for others.
Story moved from Connecticut to Rutland with her husband and family before the war began. They were homesteaders, and began to build a home in Salisbury. After her husband died in an accident, Story raised her children alone and became a spy and confidant of Ethan Allen, offered food and housing to the Green Mountain Boys, and demonstrated incredible courage in the face of threats to her life.
Story once stared down the gun of Tory spy Ezekiel Jenny. When he threatened to kill her if she didn’t inform on the Green Mountain Boys, she called him a coward, and he left emptyhanded. She sent her son Solomon with a message, written on a page from her Bible, to Ethan Allen at Fort Ticonderoga, which led to the capture of Jenny and other British spies. They were imprisoned till the war’s end.
Bartley Costello, Gammons Costello’s first grandchild, said sponsoring the piece was a natural. “Gram was the epitome of grace, strength and courage, and modeled commitment to family and community, and a love for Rutland,” he said. “The parallels with Ann Story struck a chord, and the opportunity to honor Gram through the sculpture, while giving back to Rutland, was inspiring.”
“As Rutlanders rallied to our family’s side in Gram’s time of need, the family rallied around this project,” said GMP Vice President Steve Costello, who raised $40,000 in family donations.
The project is part of an ongoing effort to install at least 10 marble sculptures in downtown Rutland, highlighting local and regional history, and creating community pride. The effort is a collaboration of GMP, MKF Properties, the Carving Studio and Sculpture Center, and Vermont Quarries.
“Stone Legacy,” a tribute to the region’s stone industry funded by GMP and MKF, already stands in the Center Street Marketplace. A tribute to Rudyard Kipling’s “Jungle Book,” written in southern Vermont, stands outside Phoenix Books, which underwrote it. A piece honoring Olympic skier and environmentalist Andrea Mead Lawrence, funded by John and Sue Casella, will be unveiled Oct. 26. A piece honoring African Americans from Rutland and throughout Vermont for their service in the Civil War will be unveiled next month, and was funded by Rutland Regional Medical Center. Vermont Quarries is donating the stone for each piece.
Mark Foley Jr., owner of MKF Properties, is Gammons Costello’s great-grandson. “In many ways, the entire series sprang forth from our family roots,” Foley said. “Steve and I are both committed to Rutland’s rebirth, and independently thought about how public art could play a role. Within days of us comparing notes, we had an agreement to work with the Carving Studio to make these projects happen.”
“There is no place like the Carving Studio and Sculpture Center in this country – the marble, the people and the skills are unique to the Rutland region,” said Carol Driscoll, executive director of the CSSC. “This collaboration between artists and business leaders is actively building community through public art. Many first-time visitors are talking to the artists and watching how the figure comes out of the stone. Collectively, the marble sculptures in downtown Rutland will create an outdoor culture and history museum for all to enjoy.”
Other possible subjects include Rutland residents and Civil War figures Edward and William Ripley, John Deere, author Julia Dorr, aviation pioneer George Schmitt, Martin Henry Freeman, Ethan Allen, and Paul Harris of Wallingford, who founded Rotary International.
Each sculpture is being donated to the city of Rutland. Mayor Dave Allaire praised the artists of the newest piece, and organizers of the effort. “As each piece is unveiled, we help tell Rutland’s story a little better, while creating beauty and pride,” Allaire said. “Each sculpture is an incredible piece of art on its own, but together, they are creating a draw to downtown, a wonderful reminder of our colorful and important past, and optimism about our future.”