Type to search

Main Slider Stories of Atlanta

If you think you’ve seen this statue before, there’s an interesting reason why

This week, we wanted, as they say in the television business, to offer an encore presentation of the Saporta Report’s very first Stories of Atlanta. It is the tale of a statue tucked away in midtown Atlanta that may very well be the city’s most treasured work of public art. It is a statue of Southern Railway’s first president Samuel Spencer. Spencer was the president of Southern Railway for 12 years and his term was, ironically, cut short by a tragic rail accident while he and some friends were off on a hunting trip.

Samuel Spencer was the very definition of a railroad man. He spent his entire career with railroads and was, by all accounts, a visionary leader. It was Spencer who greatly expanded the reach of Southern Railway, diversified its business away from strictly hauling agriculture products and modernized Southern’s equipment.

He apparently was a much loved and respected leader. Upon his untimely death, the employees of Southern Railway took up a collection in order to honor Spencer with a statue. And it is that statue and the men who made it that caught our interest.

Once you learn the story behind the Samuel Spencer statue and it makers, you might want to take a few minutes and travel to Peachtree and 14th streets in Atlanta where the statue is hiding in plain view in front of the Norfolk Southern office building. There you’ll be able to clearly see the uncanny resemblance and maybe even have the opportunity to tell those passing by the amazing fact you learned from watching this week’s Stories of Atlanta.

Lance Russell

Lance Russell is an Atlanta-based filmmaker and media communicator who, for over three decades, has been entrusted by clients to tell their stories. A seasoned producer with an innate ability to cut to the heart of the matter, Lance’s instincts are tailor-made for today’s “media bite” culture. Brief, poignant and always entertaining, Lance’s current passion is bringing Atlanta’s colorful and inspiring past to life with his “rest of the story” style video series, Stories of Atlanta. “History’s best communicators,” says Lance, “have always been storytellers. It’s in our DNA. ‘Once upon a time’ is how we got to where we are now.”



  1. BPJ August 4, 2015 12:49 pm

    This is one of our city’s little-known artistic treasures. French’s home & studio, called Chesterwood, is in western Massachusetts and is open to visitors.Report

  2. Tony Kimbrell August 4, 2015 6:19 pm

    More information about the statue and its previous locations can be found here:  http://www.atlantapublicart.com/samuel-spencer-relocation.phpReport

  3. Lance Russell August 5, 2015 12:30 pm

    Tony Kimbrell Tony thanks for the addition to this week’s story and what a wonderful website.  I urge everyone to stop by http://www.atlantapublicart.com to learn the stories behind some of the things we see everyday in Atlanta.Report

  4. Lance Russell August 5, 2015 12:33 pm

    BPJ You are right…it is a treasure.  I recently discovered that there is another Daniel Chester French work of art in Atlanta, a monument that can be found in Westview Cemetery.Report

  5. JeffClemmons August 8, 2015 3:01 am

    See French’s “Spirit of Achievement”/Jesse Parker Williams Memorial at Westview Cemetery. Sculpted c. 1915.Report

  6. JeffClemmons August 8, 2015 3:10 am

    Spirit of Achievement, 1915, Daniel Chester French. Just down from Henry Gray’s tomb.Report


Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.