A civil statue and a surplus cannon once graced the lawn in front of Central School.
On September 30, 1904 the Joe Hooker Post of Grand Army of the Republic (a local branch of a fraternal organization composed of veterans of the Union Army) dedicated a monument consisting of a civil war soldier statue and a surplus cannon. These were placed at Central School, the forerunner to Washington High School at the same location.
The statue was constructed of white bronze (not bronze, but copper, tin and zinc), the cannon was made for normal cannon use, though likely never fired. It was made the usual cannon material; steel, bronze or iron, depending on what was most available at the time.
The American Volunteer, as this statue was often called (more often people called it Joe Hooker), stood at Central School until 1933, when they were moved to Lyon Park, six blocks to the south to make way for the expansion of Washington High School, which was built in four sections over the course of several years. When they were ready to build the last section, Central School was torn down and the statue and cannon were moved.
Here we see Sid Epstein (of Sid's Liquor fame) posing next to the statue in Lyon Park. This was a WWII era photo and Sid may have felt some camaraderie with the American Volunteer, both looking snappy in their uniforms.
The head is all that now remains of the statue. Apparently, an over-zealous parks employee de-dedicated the statue, perhaps fearing that children would damage it or hurt themselves playing on it. The statue was unceremoniously pulled down via rope and pickup truck in June of 1964. The head was grabbed and saved by a park employee who wishes to remain anonymous. Anon kept company with Hooker for the 42 years since his dethroning, living with Anon in at least a dozen different locations.
Anon returned the head to Sioux Falls via Tom Griffith of Deadwood Magazine. Hooker returned to Sioux Falls in April of 2007 and he calls a climate controlled box in The Courthouse Museum his home.
Page Updated: 08/21/2011
Original Postcard by Sorenson-Binger