The Franklin D. Roosevelt ‘Refrigerator’ statue heads to North Dakota

Written by Emily Burton, CNN

Completed in 1990 and now docked in the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex in Florida, President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s marble-hued, bronze-plated likeness can still be found perched on a ledge outside the NASA gantry on Florida’s space coast.

It’s an iconic piece of real estate at the edge of nowhere.

That’s all about to change.

On October 8, the 44-foot statue will head to the North Dakota State Capitol, after Gov. Doug Burgum officially approved the relocation of the statue to the state capitol building.

This change, Burgum said, will enable the statue to interact more comfortably with visitors of the North Dakota State University North Dakota State Historical Society’s Roosevelt Presidential Library and Museum, which opened its doors in North Dakota earlier this year.

The term “refrigerator statue” was coined in 1971 after the president’s 1945 death

The museum building will play host to the recently installed sculpture, dubbed the Roosevelt “Refrigerator” statue.

Each item holds a special place in Roosevelt’s legend, as it preserves and revitalizes his legacy.

A “Refrigerator” statue was created in honor of Roosevelt’s 1890 defeat at the hands of his friend-turned-enemy Charles Sumner — a defeat that many blamed on a refrigerator stocked with Roosevelt campaign supplies.

Photo by Brent Lockhart.

From there it is taken to library curator Nicole Harle to confirm it’s indeed the same statue. “It looks the same,” she laughs, before adding that the president was not pleased to see the statue left behind, but support for moving it became increasingly strong over the years.

“‘Roosevelt told us not to move the statue. ‘Don’t leave him here,’” she said. “But we got him to agree to it.”

The 225-year-old North Dakota State Capitol’s plans for expanding the museum took on a life of their own. “They didn’t necessarily have the money to put it in the existing space,” she explains. “So they came to us.”

After all, building an addition to the Capitol wasn’t exactly a radical move.

The 127-foot statue stands on the opposite side of the rotunda in a lenticular-style display. Once a state seal, it was put into a wooden frame in 1866 before it was taken in to make way for the presidential library.

In a message attached to its gallery shelves, the museum houses the testament of two presidents and the collection that made them famous.

Photo by Brent Lockhart.

Just as the state gathered its budget to pay for the new building, they also gathered their labor force to move the statue, which took roughly 18 months to accomplish.

The statue’s move required special permits, an 18-foot-tall steel frame that was made from Port Arthur, Texas, steel wheels welded together, and a special transporter that was arranged in the center of the rotunda at the Capitol.

Gov. Burgum was pleased with the outcome. “We’ve chosen the right person to move the statue,” he said in an interview with CNN. “We selected someone who can work around this statue’s itinerant way of life.”

“We’ve decided not to leave it in Florida forever,” he added. “Someone will probably eventually want to move it. A public relations person might want to take it to a state fair or something like that.”

Leave a Comment