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Commemorative Landscapes of North Carolina
Commemorative Landscapes of North Carolina
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  • Monument Name

    Tower of Miracles, Hickory

  • Type

    Obelisk

  • Subjects

    Tragedy

    Medical Institutions

    Local History

  • Creator

    Maryrose Carroll, Sculptor

  • City

    Hickory

  • County

    Catawba

  • Description

    The Tower of Miracles is a 25 feet tall stone obelisk with metal bas-relief art panels commemorating the construction of an emergency polio hospital in Hickory in 1944. The base upon which the obelisk stands is four tiered. The lower base is several inches high with a double bevel edge. A large square plinth forms the base’s next section and holds the bas relief art panels. Above the plinth is a slanted section with multiple bevels. The final base section is a small square block with stone balls at each corner. The monument rests on a concrete foundation and walk area. Bronze plaques which describe the history of the hospital have been laid into the four corners of the walk area. The south facing bas-relief panel has an inscription with the remaining three portraying scenes from the polio emergency.

    Images: Hospital construction plaque | Hospital plaque | Community spirit plaque | South plaque | Tower plaque | East face artwork | North face artwork | West face artwork | Side view of the memorial

  • Inscription

    Plinth, art panel, south face: TOWER / OF / MIRACLES / 2001 / MARYROSE CARROLL / MILLENNIUM ART COMMITTEE / CITY OF HICKORY

    South Patio Plaque: THE HOSPITAL / TREATED OVER 700 / PATIENTS THE FIRST SIX MONTHS / REGARDLESS OF RACE OR CREED.

    East Patio Plaque: WITHIN 54 HOURS / CITIZENS HAD CONSTRUCTED / AN EMERGENCY POLIO HOSPITAL / AT THE SITE OF TODAY’S JAYCEE PARK.

    North Patio Plaque: THE PROMPT / RESPONSE TO THE 1944 / POLIO OUTBREAK REFLECTS THE / COMMUNITY’S SPIRIT AND DETERMINATION.

    West Patio Plaque: THE TOWER / WAS DESIGNED TO / HONOR POLIO SURVIVORS AND / IS A TRIBUTE TO THE STRENGTH / OF COMMUNITY SPIRIT.

  • Custodian

    City of Hickory

  • Dedication Date

    June 7, 2001

  • Decade

    2000s

  • Geographic Coordinates

    35.732360 , -81.341020 View in Geobrowsemap pin

  • Supporting Sources

      Elliot, Marvin L. “The ‘Miracle’ Of Hickory: Mass Media And The ‘Miracle'," North Dakota State University, 2007, (accessed November 13, 2016) Link

      “Hickory Public Library/Patrick Beaver Memorial,” polioplace, http://www.polioplace.org, (accessed November 13, 2016) Link

      “Monument Squabble Leaves Monument Incomplete,” Asheville Citizen-Times (Asheville, NC), July 10, 2001, 12

  • Public Site

    Yes

  • Monument Cost

    $65,000

  • Subject Notes

    "The Miracle of Hickory" was the construction of the Hickory Emergency Infantile Paralysis Hospital which was built in less than three days in response to an outbreak of polio. During the first few weeks of June 1944, as the epidemic struck North Carolina hard, hospitals in Charlotte and Gastonia filled and quit taking new patients. It was realized a local facility was needed and the Lake Hickory Health Camp, a camp for underprivileged children, was appropriated. Within three days it was set up as a hospital and began receiving patients. For nine months, regardless of race, hometown, or ability to pay, the hospital received hundreds of young people afflicted with polio. The events in Hickory made national headlines with Life magazine publishing a series of photographs in 1944.

  • Controversies

    The memorial was not completed by the dedication date of June 7, 2001. As the quality of the work continuously was questioned, the city authorities finally stopped work on the memorial.

  • Location

    The memorial is located in downtown Hickory on Union Square, a pedestrian plaza, off of Main Avenue Northwest. A short distance west is the Hickory Veterans Memorial. Several blocks away on 2nd Street SW is the Old Hickory Tavern memorial.

  • Landscape

    The obelisk stands on a sidewalk of the downtown pedestrian plaza.

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