Town trying to raise $35,000 needed to get Thomas Edison statue into US Capitol hall

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MILAN, Ohio — The birthplace of Thomas is Edison is trying to raise $35,000 to support an effort to replace a statue of a former Ohio governor who supported Southern slave owners at the U.S. Capitol with one of the inventor.

Each state is allowed to display two notable historic figures at Statuary Hall. The town of Milan, located about 50 miles west of Cleveland, is trying to raise the money needed to commission an 8-foot tall bronze statue of Edison to replace a statue of former Gov. William Allen, The Columbus Dispatch reported ( ). Allen was a Democrat from the 1800s.

Former President James A. Garfield is the state's other representative in the hall.

The Ohio Historical Society launched an effort to replace Allen in 2010. Townsfolk created the "Send Edison to Washington" fund through a crowdfunding website after they were unable to obtain funding from the state's Statuary Hall Commission, which coordinated the project. The fund had raised more than $400 as of Nov. 19.

Artist Alan Cottrill, of Zanesville, created the statue, which depicts Edison holding an incandescent light bulb. Nearly 50,000 Ohioans voted to replace the Allen statute with Edison, who beat out the Wright brothers and Olympian track star Jesse Owens. Work on the statue began in 2010 and it debuted at the Statehouse in May.

The project initially had a $2 million privately raised budget. The project is now at $66,000 — half of which is being raised by Milan. The rest will be raised by a grant from the Charles Edison Fund, which was created by one of the inventor's sons.

Officials had indicated the Edison statue could possibly be unveiled in Washington in October. U.S. House Speaker John Boehner, R-West Chester, then resigned, contributing to the delay.

Mark Wagoner, a lawyer and former state senator who led the Statuary Hall Commission, said he thinks the Edison statue will still make it into the hall, though he is not sure exactly when that will happen.

Information from: The Columbus Dispatch,

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