Pickerington Times-Sun

Center gets refurbished Sherman statue, name change

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Big plans are in store for one of Pickerington's oldest shopping centers, Brookview Village Center at 1214 Hill Road N.

Built in 1988 and a long-time fixture on the city's commercial corridor that is state Route 256, the shopping plaza will soon be changing its name to "Sherman Center."

The name change is being done to honor General William Tecumseh Sherman, a native son of Fairfield County and a Civil War legend whose statue prominently stands in the shopping plaza's center courtyard.

A Civil War buff, Reiner said even though the statue was missing its head and left hand, removed by vandals back in 1968, didn't deter him from purchasing it.

"I thought it was a shame, the fellow was headless, and didn't have a hand -- it was a travesty," said Reiner.

"I thought maybe (Sherman) can come back to his home in Fairfield County, so I bought him at auction," he said.

Reiner said Sherman's place in history as a legendary Civil War general is well-documented.

"His aggressive march to Atlanta cut the South in half and shortened the war. That's how (President) Lincoln got re-elected," he said.

Reiner said Sherman's soldiers lovingly referred to him as "Uncle Billy" because they "adored him, and they would follow him anywhere."

He said having the statue restored to its original state became a mission that needed to be accomplished.

A search for a sculptor to fashion both head and hand led him to 75 year-old Oro Ray King of Buckeye Lake.

Reiner commissioned King, who in turn procured a 400 pound block of sandstone from Muskingum County, to finish the job and make General Sherman whole.

"I had some sandstone from a quarry to finish the head, but (King) didn't think it was good enough," Reiner said.

"He had a special piece of stone from Muskingum County. He said we had to be purists and match (the stone)," Reiner said.

Reiner collaborated with King by reviewing archived photographs to come up with a detailed likeness of Sherman's head. He was pleased with the results.

"We feel he did a fine job and even caught the hawk-like glare in (Sherman's) eyes and his nose," he said.

King fitted the new head and hand on General Sherman in June.

With the seven-foot statue now completely intact, Reiner is making sure the courtyard that hosts it is a commensurate tribute to the memory of Sherman.

"We are in the process of laying authentic paving bricks to surround General Sherman with a planter and places for benches," Reiner said.

"By using the old, large bricks we hope to have a Civil War era feel," he said.

He said the fence that surrounds the statute will be stained "union uniform blue" and blue granite will be installed in the brick walk with "some grey for the confederates."

"There will be a black granite cap on the planter to commemorate the slaves freed by General Sherman," Reiner said.

"Flowers and plants from the 1860's will be planted in the flower bed that surrounds the statue," he said.

Changes to Reiner's shopping center are not just limited to its moniker and central courtyard.

Aug. 13, Pickerington's Planning and Zoning Commission also unanimously approved exterior facade renovations to the shopping center.

Proposed second- and third-phase improvements, to be considered at a later date, include the expansion of the rear portion of the existing 28,700 square feet retail building by 7,600 square feet.

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