RUTLAND—The city enhanced its downtown sculpture trail Oct. 19 with the unveiling of a seven-foot-tall marble sculpture of Revolutionary War hero Ann Story. The work of art stands near the intersection of West Street and Cottage Street.
Ann Story, with help from her son Solomon, spied for Ethan Allen during the Revolutionary War. The sculpture features them peering from a doorway, an ax in Solomon’s hands and alert looks on their faces as they gaze in opposite directions. It was designed by Amanda Sisk and carved by Evan Morse and Taylor Apostol.
“It was an honor to participate in this project, both for commemorating the life of Ann Story and for its addition to Rutland’s public arts,” Morse said. “Ann Story is such a compelling heroic figure from Vermont’s history. It’s great that she will now have such a visible monument right in downtown Rutland.”
The statue honors that history, and the memory of another strong Rutland woman, Evelyn Gammons Costello, as it was paid for by descendants of Costello. Both women were widowed – Story with five children during the Revolutionary War era, Costello with seven children and pregnant with twins as the Great Depression began. Both persevered against heavy odds and became role models for others.
Story moved from Connecticut to Rutland with her husband and family before the Revolution began. They were homesteaders and began to build a wilderness home in Salisbury. After her husband was killed in 1775 by a falling tree, Story raised her five children alone and when Indian allies of the British burned her cabin down, she and the children rebuilt on the same spot. She built a tunnel under the floor to Otter Creek, and by night they slept in a cave they carved out of riverbank. She offered the cave as storage for patriots’ munitions and became a spy and confidant of Ethan Allen, offering food, shelter and information to the Green Mountain Boys and demonstrating incredible courage in the face of threats to her life.
Story once stared down the gun of Tory spy Ezekiel Jenny. When he threatened to kill her if she didn’t inform on the Green Mountain Boys, she retorted that she would never give in to a coward, and he left emptyhanded. She sent her son Solomon with a message, written on a page from her Bible, to Ethan Allen at Fort Ticonderoga, which led to the capture of Jenny and other British spies.
Bartley Costello, Evelyn Gammons Costello’s first grandchild, said sponsoring the piece was a natural. “Gram was the epitome of grace, strength and courage, and modeled commitment to family and community, and a love for Rutland,” he said. “The parallels with Ann Story struck a chord, and the opportunity to honor Gram through the sculpture, while giving back to Rutland, was inspiring.”
“As Rutlanders rallied to our family’s side in Gram’s time of need, the family rallied around this project,” said Green Mountain Power Vice President Steve Costello, who raised $40,000 in family donations.
The project is part of an ongoing effort to install at least 10 marble sculptures in downtown Rutland, highlighting local and regional history and creating community pride. The effort is a collaboration of Green Mountain Power, MKF Properties, the Carving Studio and Sculpture Center, and Vermont Quarries.
Other possible subjects include Civil War officers Edward and William Ripley, John Deere, author Julia Dorr, aviation pioneer George Schmitt, Martin Henry Freeman, Ethan Allen, and Paul Harris of Wallingford, who founded Rotary International.
“As each piece is unveiled, we help tell Rutland’s story a little better, while creating beauty and pride,” said Mayor Dave Allaire. “Each sculpture is an incredible piece of art on its own, but together, they are creating a draw to downtown, a wonderful reminder of our colorful and important past, and optimism about our future.”
Photo by Polly Mikula
Women from Rutland’s Ann Story chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution attended the statue unveiling Friday, Oct. 19 on the corner of West and Cottage Streets.