CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. (WDEF) – This statue has been in the Chattanooga Choo Choo courtyard for as long as anyone can remember.
And, it often catches the eye of people passing by.
“Just about everybody wants to know who comes in the shop wants to know who the statue is. Especially the tour people that are on tour buses. So we tell them that we don’t know that the information was lost,” Betty Glazener said.
For years no one knew who he was.
There’s no plaque or name telling his story and that’s left speculation.
Glazener works at Sweetly Southern right next to mystery man and she’s heard it all.
“Some of them think he’s Jefferson Davis. I had one man says well I think he’s Sherman and I said no I don’t think he would be Sherman here in the south,” Glazener said.
It wasn’t until a historical society realized that this was the statue of Muncie, Indiana businessman Charles Willard.
The statue matched a statue that had been missing since the 1960’s and pictured on a building in Muncie.
Mr. Willard who has been waiting at the Choo Choo will finally hitch a ride next week to go back home.
The company that’s currently working on the construction project at the historic transportation site has offered to transport him to Muncie.
“From a building standpoint, especially on a historic building, we’re always trying to figure out how was this and let’s return this to the way it was. That’s kind of our goal from a general contracting perspective and so this is the embodiment of that. He was no connection to Chattanooga as a statue. Why not get him back to Muncie where he belongs,” Tucker Build Construction President Jeff Cannon said.
The statue may not be an easy move because of its weight and age.
But, the plan is to move it using a special crate.
“Working with the folks in Muncie, we’re building a kind of a crate where we will lay him down in a trailer. So, he’ll take the ride, the 7 hour drive laying down on a crate that’s made especially for him,” Cannon said.
While Willard has provided people in Chattanooga with curiosity and interest, Glazener said she’s happy he’s going to go home.
“I’m glad, I’m very glad because he needs to be where he belongs and for the historical society there to have him back, but it’s been a lot of fun,” Glazener said.