This 1891 statue of Johann Christoph Friedrich von Schiller stands today as a result of the civic-minded efforts and generosity of the early German-American immigrants who settled in this part of the City of Columbus in the 1880s.
Schiller was a beloved German poet, philosopher, historian, and playwright who lived from 1759 to 1805. He wrote many critically-acclaimed plays, including several that are considered part of the English literary canon - the most important and influential works in Western literature. Ludwig van Beethoven set Schiller's poem Ode to Joy to music in the final movement of the Ninth Symphony, one of the best-known works in classical music.
For more of the story, see the remaining plaques positioned around the monument. This is plaque 1 of 4.
Addressing the worth of virtue, the triumph of freedom, and the noble heart of patriotism, Schiller's words resonated with those who sought to preserve their German language and culture, while proudly becoming American citizens.
The community raised the funds necessary to commission this monument honoring its beloved "poet of liberty" by sponsoring festivals and bazaars and soliciting donations from German-American societies, neighborhood breweries, and other "friends of the enterprise."
Working together, local residents raised the $6,500 fee required to purchase the statue and pedestal.
The City of Columbus contributed to the project by preparing the site and installing the monument, thereby creating a model for the public/private partnerships that have become a hallmark of the German Village community.
For more of the story, see the remaining plaques positioned around the monument. This is plaque 2 of 4.
The 11-foot bronze statue, a work by sculptor Max von Widnmann, was cast at the renowned Royal Bronze Foundry of Ferdinand von Miller Foundry in Munich, Germany. The pedestal, made of Concord granite, was designed and executed by two local German-Americans: architect Joseph Dauben and sculptor Charles Wege.
The statue was transported by sea, free of charge, from Germany to Baltimore, Maryland on the steamer America. The B&O Railroad then carried the statue, also at no charge, onward to Columbus for its July 4, 1891 dedication. The huge affair was preceded by a parade, complete with fireworks, and featured speeches by the governor, the mayor, and various city officials before an audience of over 10,000 revelers.
For more of the story, see the remaining plaques positioned around the monument. This is plaque 3 of 4.
In 1905, on the centennial
of Schiller's death, the city changed the park's name from City Park to Schiller Park. In 1918, responding to anti-German sentiments that arose during World War I, Columbus City Council changed the park's name to Washington Park. Angered by news of the war, a band of citizens burned German books at the base of the Schiller monument. With time came reason and healing, and the park was renamed Schiller Park in 1932.
A century after its dedication, the monument was refurbished by the Friends of Schiller Park and the United German Singing Societies of Central Ohio; the inspiring quotes by Schiller were chiseled into the granite stones of the promenade in 1991; enhancements of lights and landscaping were added in 2012; and signage was installed in 2015. Each project was testimony to the ongoing civic generosity that is our German Village legacy.
For more of the story, see the remaining plaques positioned around the monument. This is plaque 4 of 4.