On July 22, 2020

Rutland Sculpture Trail’s 10th artwork to honor Redfield Proctor

Rutland lawyer became Civil War officer, governor, senator, secretary of war and marble magnate

Redfield Proctor, who served in the Civil War, made Rutland County the center of the marble universe, and served as governor, U.S. senator and secretary of war, will be honored with the 10th work of art on the Rutland Sculpture Trail.

“Proctor was a visionary leader who reorganized the U.S. military, improved conditions for soldiers, and built the world’s largest marble business through shrewdness, imagination, and hard work,” said Mark Foley Sr., who is funding the sculpture with his wife, Nancy. “As president of Vermont Marble Company, he routinely worked side by side with the quarrymen, demonstrating an incredible work ethic and commitment. He led by example.”

Proctor left a thriving legal practice in Rutland to join the 3rd Vermont Infantry when the Civil War began, earning repeated promotions before mustering out as colonel of the 15th Vermont Infantry after the Battle of Gettysburg. He returned to law, and was named receiver of the Sutherland Falls Marble Company. In 1880, he oversaw its merger with Rutland Marble Company to create the Vermont Marble Company, which he built into the largest in the world.

Proctor, with widespread political and business connections, used his influence to protect and grow the industry for decades. He even recruited trained sculptors from Carrara, Italy, then the epicenter of the industry, to Rutland County, and this helped Rutland to replace Carrara as the world’s marble center. His leadership brought thousands of immigrants to Rutland County, swelling the population, and creating a boom in construction, retail and associated services.

In a dangerous industry where accidents often proved fatal, Proctor worked closely with employees, providing health care when few companies did, paid higher wages than competitors, and built high-quality housing. While other companies rented homes to employees, Proctor often sold them so employees could build equity.

“Proctor had a deep civic connection,” said Steve Costello, a Sculpture Trail organizer. “He believed in Rutland County, worked incredibly hard to build the region’s economy, and created a company that was one of the most successful in the world.”

“Redfield Proctor was a hardnosed businessman, but unlike most of his competitors, he saw the worker as a partner,” said Mark Foley Jr.

Despite significant changes at Vermont Marble in the 100 years after Proctor built the company, his legacy remains strong. Its stone graces everything from the foundations of homes across Rutland County to churches, the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Arlington National Cemetery, the U.S. Supreme Court, the Jefferson Memorial, and the United Nations building in New York.

“Redfield Proctor’s legacy is profound,” said Carol Driscoll, executive director of the Carving Studio and Sculpture Center.  “The work we do here is an extension of that legacy in many ways, as is the sculpture trail. Marble’s importance in Rutland County wouldn’t be near what it is if not for Redfield Proctor.”

The Rutland Sculpture trail is a collaboration of the CSSC, Green Mountain Power, MKF Properties, and Vermont Quarries. Other sculptures in the series include:

“Stone Legacy,” a tribute to the region’s stone industry, which stands in the Center Street Marketplace

A tribute to Rudyard Kipling’s “Jungle Book,” which stands outside Phoenix Books

A piece honoring Vermont native, Olympic skier and environmentalist Andrea Mead Lawrence

Revolutionary War heroine Ann Story and her son Solomon, at the corner of West and Cottage streets

A piece honoring African Americans enlisted in Rutland to fight in the Massachusetts 54th Regiment in the Civil War, on the Center Street wall of the Castleton Downtown Gallery

A sculpture honoring Bill W., the founder of Alcoholics Anonymous, who was born in Dorset and raised in Rutland, in the Center Street Marketplace

A tribute to Martin Henry Freeman, a Rutland native who was the first African American college president in the country, expected to be installed this fall.

Sculptures honoring Paul Harris, founder of Rotary International, and Julia Dorr, an author, poet, philanthropist and founder of the Rutland Free Library, are also expected to be completed this year.

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