Pioneer Family and Animals of the Region [Plaster]

Dublin Core


Pioneer Family and Animals of the Region [Plaster]


Animal sculpture--20th century


quarter-scale model, 1948
Plaster original painted green

Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Marshall M. Fredericks

This segment was not used in the completed sculpture for the Louisville Courier-Journal because it relates more to the State of Missouri, than the State of Kentucky.


Fredericks, Marshall M., 1908-1998




Use of this image requires permission from the Marshall M. Fredericks Sculpture Museum




University Center (Mich.)

Sculpture Item Type Metadata

Physical Dimensions

22" x 36"


Plaster and paint

Catalog Number


Object Location

Main Exhibit Gallery


1989 March, 22 Gift to Museum and SVSU Board of Control


From Jennifer Lentz (Collection Documentation Intern 1991-1992)
Memo dated April 3, 1992:
"RE: Spirit of Kentucky
The reliefs on the Louisville Courier-Journal Building were cast at the Roman Bronze Works, Inc. in Corona New York. They are mounted on Veined Ebony Black granite. Mr. Fredericks said the following about the reliefs. 'I hoped to make this something you would not just look at one time and dismiss. I wanted it to be something that the children would be able to understand and enjoy and see something different about it each time they saw it again.'"

MF archives:
Marshall was contacted by Donald Oenslager of New York, design consultant for the new Louisville Courier Building, regarding this commission. Mr. Oenslager had been asked to approach Carl Milles about doing the sculptural reliefs for this building entrance. Mr. Oenslager states in a letter to Marshall dated July 29, 1946:
"They suggested I approach your Father-Superior, Karl Milles, about sculptural work for the building. This I have done hoping, with you in the back of my mind, that his fee might be too expensive and that he might be too occupied. That is the case and I have proposed to the owners that I get in touch with (you) about designing and executing the sculptural decorations of the main entrance of the building. The owners and publishers of the papers are very much in favor of my proposal and I am writing to you to inquire whether their project might interest you." He continues "For subject matter the clients seem inclined toward the representation of a number of scenes and episodes from the history of the state of Kentucky."
Barry Bingham was the owner of the new Courier-Journal building and former ambassador to London's son and a young and progressive editor who has a very deep interest in the contemporary arts. He corresponds frequently and cordially with Marshall on the design of his relief sculpture.
Marshall did take on this commission for the sum of $10,000 which was paid to him in three payments of $3333.33.
His intent for the project was for "children to be able to understand and enjoy and see something different about it each time they saw it again."

MF, Sculptor:
The main entrance to the building of the Louisville Courier-Journal presented another kind of problem-to embody the spirit and the history of a state in visual form. The building was a not unusual downtown business structure, having an entrance in the form of a shallow rectangular recess. Fredericks took as the subject for its enrichment the history of the region, in which the Courier-Journal is the one great newspaper. Kentucky, one of the earliest states to be settled by the tide of western migration, has a store of memories: the pioneer settlers, the great rivers with their picturesque side-wheelers, its farms and blooded horses. The tall space over the door was a difficulty which was solved by grouping these memories in bronze low reliefs, arranged as if free-flowing on a polished black granite background, as they might present themselves in the imagination-a pioneer family with the animals in the forest; riverboats and giant catfish; tobacco and sheep; thoroughbred horses. These free-form reliefs, completed in 1948, were a skillful solution to the problem of an awkwardly shaped wall area.

Molly Barth copy:
On this wall are fragments of the scale-models for The Spirit of Kentucky relief which was made to go above the entrance of the "Louisville Courier Journal" newspaper building in Louisville, Kentucky. The bronze sculpture in Louisville is 16 feet x 16 feet square. These vignettes of life in Kentucky float on the. The newspaper commissioned Fredericks to do this. It was dedicated in 1947. They wanted to tell a little bit about Kentucky so that students or children coming to see how a newspaper was made they could look and see a little bit of their state history as they were walking into the building or as they were walking along the sidewalk. The two fragments we are missing are the thoroughbred horses and the tobacco industry. On the left are two raccoons with their dinner that they caught. In the middle is the giant catfish with the paddlewheels. On the right is the pioneer family with the woodland animals. Down below, again, are the giant catfish and the paddlewheels. Those two on the right are just the quarter-scale models. The other two, the raccoons the larger catfish and the paddlewheels are the full-size plaster models. They are the same size as the bronze casts now located on the facade of the building. There you've got the giant catfish and the paddlewheels, but up above in the tree limbs, are Huckleberry Finn and Tom Sawyer looking down on the paddlewheels. These were cast in bronze. When Fredericks was commissioned to do this, the newspaper invited him and Mrs. Fredericks to come to tour their state, so that he could experience first-hand what Kentucky was like. He did and he came up with some very nice aspects, of liking Kentucky, the spirit of Kentucky.




Fredericks, Marshall M., 1908-1998, “Pioneer Family and Animals of the Region [Plaster],” Marshall M. Fredericks Sculpture Museum, accessed July 14, 2024,