Throwback Thursday – President Lincoln’s Statue at WKU

One of the most popular sculptures on the main campus of Western Kentucky University is the likeness of Abraham Lincoln, the 16th president of the United States. Dedicated 12 years ago as part of the bicentennial celebration of his birthday, Mr. Lincoln’s Kentucky history provided inspiration for this welcome statue for the Kentucky Museum.

Throwback Thursday has featured many segments about the Civil War in southern Kentucky, but has never focused on President Lincoln’s Kentucky background or influences. President Lincoln was born in 1808 in Hodgenville. His birthplace is now operated by the National Park Service and deemed a historic site. 

In 2008, for the 200th anniversary of his birth, the Kentucky Museum at WKU opened a new exhibit dedicated to President Lincoln and the Civil War. The Lincoln statue outside the museum was also unveiled at this time. Designed by Gary Lee Price in Springville, Utah, the bronze statue is casually sitting on a bench, as if taking a break from national turmoil. 

It’s been said that the location of this statue is a good fit for many reasons aside it being the entrance of the Kentucky Museum. With one of the best views of the city and its surroundings, the hill that the university sits on was active during the Civil War years. 

Confederate forces occupied the fort atop the hill for several months in 1862, before Union troops forced them to retreat. Pieces of the old fort can still be found in the garden behind Garrett Conference Center and Cherry Hall. 

It seems even more appropriate to have a president and one of Kentucky’s native sons both sitting near a Civil War historic site from his own time and casually presiding over the entrance to the museum that houses the area’s history.