We support the move by representatives of several local foundations who have expressed potential interest in supporting the re-creation of a statue dedicated to the 1900 Storm, the original of which vanished a century ago.
“I think it’s a fantastic opportunity to remember that we as a community survived the storm,” Gerald Smith, the Moody Foundation’s senior program officer, said after a private presentation earlier this month at the Rosenberg Library. “I feel the statue would be a tremendous asset for Galveston.”
No one will deny The Great Storm of 1900 changed the course of Galveston, and, by extension, Texas. Until that time, Galveston had been referred to as the Wall Street of the West and many believed, incorrectly, impervious to hurricanes. The city was also among the fastest growing west of the Mississippi River at the time. Great climate, thriving ports and home to one of the busiest immigration centers, Galveston’s future appeared limited by only one’s imagination.
All of that changed on Sept. 8, 1900, with the arrival of the single deadliest hurricane to ever to strike the United States — taking more than 6,000 lives during the tragedy.
Afterward, with a wave of destruction like never seen before on Texas shores, the city of Galveston changed in the eyes of the world. Investment dried up, businesses moved inland — spurring the development of nearby Houston — and the island would forever be different.
“We need Galveston to embrace this,” John Bernardoni, whose great-grandfather, Giovanni Bernardoni, died in the 1900 Storm, urged his audience. “I’m hoping people will come together on this.”
The statue, of which only old, sepia-tinted photographs exists, was created in 1904, depicting a mother, a young girl clinging to her, and a deceased infant cradled in the mother’s arms as the hurricane’s trailing winds press against her. A man’s disembodied arm rises from below in a desperate bid to grasp the debris on which the woman precariously stands.
The statue was sculpted by Pompeo Luigi Coppini, an Italian immigrant and naturalized American who created numerous bronze works throughout Texas, including a tomblike monument to the heroes of the Alamo, a commission awarded to him for the Texas Centennial.
The Great Storm of 1900 was more than a singular event — it literally changed the presence of a city, a region, a state and a nation. To this day, the storm remains the deadliest in history.
We, as a community, owe it to those who perished as well those who bravely rebuilt this city, to support this important effort.
• Leonard Woolsey