By Jim Wudarczyk
The most definitive account of Lawrenceville’s iconic “Doughboy Statue” was compiled in 2004 for the Lawrenceville Historical Society’s second published volume, A Doughboy’s Tale. . .and More Lawrenceville Stories. Since then, new information has come to light. With the passing of more than a decade, it was time to revisit the subject.
If the people of Lawrenceville had to pick one thing to symbolize their neighborhood, no doubt they would choose the Doughboy Statue that stands guard at the confluence of the neighborhood’s two main arteries of Butler Street and Penn Avenue.
How the Doughboy came to be is an interesting story. It was never intended that a monument honoring veterans be erected. Rather, the people of the Lawrenceville community got caught up in the patriotic fervor of World War I. Wanting to show their support for the men in service, they conceived the idea of holding a bazaar to raise money. In 1918, the Lawrenceville Board of Trade organized a fundraiser in the form of a carnival held in Arsenal Park.
Since the war ended before the money could reach the troops, it was suggested that Lawrenceville emulate other communities and use the funds to erect a monument to honor our troops. In order to meet the goal of $10,000, additional fundraising took place in 1919.
The monument was to honor the troops of what was then the Fifth Zone, which was comprised of the city’s Sixth Ward. The Art Commission of the City of Pittsburgh held a special meeting on February 25, 1920, and approved the plans for the statue. It was recommended that Allen George Newman of New York City be awarded the contract as sculptor. Application to the Art Commission recommended the location of the junction of Penn Avenue and Butler Street.