NOTE: This story was updated to correct the statue’s previous location.
JOHNSTON, R.I. (WPRI) — Providence’s historic and controversial Christopher Columbus statue, which has been sitting in storage for nearly three years, will soon have a new home.
Johnston Mayor Joseph Polisena Jr. announced Thursday that the statue is being gifted to the town by former Providence Mayor Joseph Paolino Jr., who bought it from the city earlier this year.
Polisena said the statue will eventually be taken out of storage and moved to Johnston Memorial Park. The statue will be unveiled on Columbus Day.
“No taxpayer dollars will be used to bring the statue to Johnston,” he added.
The statue was originally located in Columbus Square on Elmwood Avenue. It was boarded up a few years ago after vandals threatened to tear it down. The city decided to put in storage a few days after the plywood box it was encased in was vandalized.
“Italian Americans have made tremendous and lasting contributions to the state,” Paolino said. The Christopher Columbus statue is a symbol of Italian culture … [Polisena] is playing an important role in ensuring that this historic symbol is not melted down and turned into scrap metal.
“We can’t run away from history,” he continued. “The Christopher Columbus statue is a source of pride for many families in our state.”
Polisena said Johnston is home to “the state’s densest Italian American community.”