This week, artist Nelson Grice will pour the cast for the trunk of the long-awaited 13-foot tall bronze statue of Avondale Park’s legendary and beloved elephant—Miss Fancy.
If all goes as planned, organizers expect to unveil the 3000-pound statue in the front of the grand entrance of the historic Birmingham park in Spring of 2022, before the The World Games.
Keep reading to see a photo gallery of the 13- foot model being made right now at Nelson Grice’s foundry at the Shelby County Arts Council in Columbiana.
Miss Fancy is Everywhere
An Indian elephant that lived in Avondale Park when it was Birmingham’s first public zoo from 1913-1934, Miss Fancy frequently gave rides to children and led Birmingham parades.
Depictions of Miss Fancy are everywhere around Avondale.
Miss Fancy Statues at Avondale
As a part of Avondale Park’s 2012 renovation, a statue was made in her honor. This bronze-colored monument to the beloved elephant was also a fountain, spraying water from her trunk. Two years after her installation, a drunk driver ran over the statue. Lost for years, it was re-discovered at Legion Field in 2020 then repaired and reinstalled this past summer. It now stands at the Avondale Park 40th Street entrance.
The same year the Miss Fancy statue was damaged (2014), Ron Council of Friends of Avondale Park started a fund-raising campaign to replace the statue.
Council wanted to commission a new bronze fountain made by a local sculptor depicting a life-sized Miss Fancy memorial. Sadly, Ron Council died before the project was finished.
To finish his father’s dream, his son, Bryan Council, took over the project. President of Metro Monitor, Inc. which is located in Avondale, Bryan led the fundraising efforts. He is very pleased with this new sculpture, which places children at the forefront.
“If you look at historical photos of Miss Fancy, she actually gave rides to children throughout the park,” said Council. “Nelson, our artist, thought we should put children on top of the elephant. It really refers back to the original Miss Fancy. It tells the story and brings children into public art, which you rarely see.”
The statue is huge. Here are the numbers, according to Nelson:
- From tail to trunk—10 feet long
- From bottom of base to top of trunk—13 feet
- Width—6 feet
Want to Watch Miss Fancy come to life?
Nelson regularly publishes updates on the process. You can find him on Facebook at Griceart or on Instagram @griceart.
Grice told us that because of supply chain issues and increased material costs, there still may be a need to raise additional funds for the installation. Go to the Friends of Avondale Park’s website here. Donations must be made under the “Giving” section—write in the comment field that the donation is for the new Miss Fancy Fund.