Dearborn to put statue of ex-mayor back on display

Charles E. Ramirez, and James David Dickson
The Detroit News

A statue of Dearborn’s former mayor who was criticized for his segregationist views is back on display, but this time in front of a museum instead of City Hall.

The statue of Orville Hubbard, who served as Dearborn's mayor from 1942-78, was taken down from its home in front of old City Hall in September 2015.

Officials said then the icon would be moved to the Dearborn Historical Museum on Brady near Michigan Avenue.

“Orville Hubbard was mayor from 1942 through 1977, which is a long time ago, and also a long time for someone to have served in the same public office," Dearborn Mayor John B. O’Reilly said in a statement. "The Historical Museum is the appropriate site to acknowledge his place in Dearborn’s history.”

Mary Laundroche, director of the city's Department of Public Information, said the statue was installed at the museum Friday.

"There was a lengthy period of time where it needed to be restored, so we weren't quite sure what the time frame was for when it would be installed," she said. "But we thought it would be appropriate if it could be re-installed around his birthday."

Hubbard, whose birthday is Sunday, was a controversial figure. Supporters said he kept his city safe and clean and prosperous, while his critics called him the most prominent northern segregationist.

Hubbard won election after election on the slogan "Keep Dearborn Clean" -- a catch phrase, most thought, for "Keep Dearborn White."

“He was a complicated person,” David L. Good, a former Detroit News editor and Dearborn Historical Commission chairman who wrote a book on Hubbard, told The News in September. “He wasn’t just a segregationist. In many respects, he was a very good mayor and did a lot of good things for the city. ... He got the streets cleared of snow and leaves. He had a wonderful recreation system, parks and pools, Camp Dearborn and the senior citizens apartment building in Clearwater, Florida.”

Officials said when the city sold its old City Hall building in 2013, they expected to move the statue. The decision to install it at the museum wasn't made until about a month before it was taken down.