Fundraiser marks Spirit of Detroit’s 60th anniversary

The Detroit News

In more than half a century standing sentry downtown, the Spirit of Detroit has become a major Motor City landmark. And next month, as the towering statue’s 60th anniversary approaches, officials are working to honor the sculptor who created it.

A celebration fundraiser runs 6-10 p.m. May 12 at One Woodward to support the Marshall M. Fredericks Sculpture Museum, a nonprofit that aims to preserve the renowned city-based artist’s legacy.

In 1955, the Detroit-Wayne Joint Building Authority commissioned Fredericks to create, for “a final cost of $58,000,” said, the sculpture representing hope, progress and the “spirit of man.”

At the time of its 1958 installation, the 26-foot bronze human figure was “reportedly the largest cast bronze statue since the Renaissance,” said. The statue holds a family in his right hand and in his left, a golden orb, a symbol of God, according to the Smithsonian American Art Museum art inventories website.

The monument outside the Coleman A. Young Municipal Center has since donned a slew of giant jerseys to honor city sports teams, though now only those winning national championships and contribute $25,000 for the statue’s maintenance can dress it up.

Next month’s fundraiser includes a reception, music from local jazz entertainer Ben Sharkey and a walk to the Spirit Plaza, organizers said.

Tickets are $250 for Tier One, which includes dinner in the Beacon. Tier Two tickets are $60 and cover cocktails, canapes and music in the lobby and on the patio.

The tickets are available online through the Fredericks group.

For information, go to