PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — For the first time in nearly 50 years, and only the second time in Rhode Island history, the Independent Man will take a break from watching over the state.

Gov. Dan McKee announced Friday that the statue and its base on top of the State House will undergo an “important, historic repair and preservation effort.”

“The Independent Man is an iconic symbol of our state and a source of pride for all Rhode Islanders,” McKee said. “The statue has weathered decades of storms, blizzards and hurricanes, and it is important that we use this opportunity to invest in the People’s House and preserve the Independent Man for generations of Rhode Islanders and visitors to enjoy.”

The decision was made after drone footage taken on Tuesday showed damage to the dome that the statue stands on. Because of the damage, the statue and the dome have started to separate, according to McKee.

A crane and work crew are on site Friday to secure the statue before any potential impacts from Hurricane Lee. McKee said once it’s secured and the restoration plans are finalized, the Independent Man will be removed.

The governor’s office said it’s looking at options for displaying the statue so the public can enjoy it before it returns to the top of the State House.

The Independent Man was designed by artist George Brewster and cast by the Gorham Manufacturing Company of Providence. It’s covered in gold leaf, stands 11 feet tall and weighs more than 500 pounds.

People are urged not to fly their drones or other devices near the Independent Man or State House dome while work is being done.

The Independent Man was last removed in 1975.

Below are images of the statue from the Rhode Island State Archives.

  • Independent Man statue being removed from RI State House in 1976
  • Gov. Joe Garrahy with Independent Man statue in 1976
  • Independent Man statue on display in 1976
  • Independent Man statue on display in 1976