SAVANNAH, Ga. (WSAV) – There’s disappointment and relief Thursday after Savannah City Council members voted to relocate the city’s legendary Waving Girl statue.
For decades, the bronze monument to Florence Martus stood in Morrell Park on River Street’s east end. The motion — petitioned by Christian Sottile and The Propeller Club of Savannah — proposed the statue move to River Street’s newly commercialized west end.
Payment for the move will be “provided by the petitioner,” according to the council agendaa.
Historians say Martus and her devoted Collie spent day and night along the Savannah River waving to ships. Martus’ family says she was a religious woman and also prayed for them.
“I think the idea of waving as soon as they come in and waving when they leave was the way she lived her life,” said Michael Kenney, Martus’ great-nephew, at Thursday’s city council meeting.
Kenney says the monument’s longtime location in Morrell Park is important to Martus’ story as the Hostess City’s most legendary hostess.
Some people say the statue’s location in Morell Park was hard to find and covered by large trees. The Savannah Tree Foundation advised against cutting them down.
Aldermen Estella Shabazz and Van Johnson were the only two councilmembers who voted in favor of keeping the statue at its current location.
Several aldermen-elect, including Linda Wilder-Bryan, Detric Leggett, Kurtis Purtee and Alicia Miller-Blakely, stood in front of council to delay the vote.
“I’m disappointed,” said Leggett — the incoming councilman for Savannah’s second district. “The people got up and they spoke… and [council] passed it without even thinking about it.”
When the statue is gone from its longtime home, people who work on East River Street worry sales and foot traffic will decrease.
“That’s an attraction and people are coming here to see that,” said Sherry Hass, an employee at Exotic Cigars. “They’re not going to come all the way to this end looking for stuff because it won’t be there.”