Vandalism & Rebirth

The Boll Weevil Monument has unintentionally sent out a silent beacon for decades, periodically luring in pranksters with a siren’s song only heard by bored teens and easily amused yokels.

It started a few years after the bug was added to the monument in 1949. Someone claimed the weevil as a souvenir, but an Enterprise club saved the day, replacing it with a new and improved version.

A couple of decades later, both the weevil and the statue holding it up disappeared in the 1970s. Within days the wayward lady and her trusty insect companion turned up on the roadside. Local metal fabricators whipped the pair back into shape and all was well once again.

By 1981 another joker with the by now unoriginal idea of taking the bug made off with his (or her) prize. Again, a new weevil was installed.

Lots of little incidents plagued the monument over the years, often involving detergent of some kind poured into the fountain to create a bubbly, soapy mess for commuters to take in the next morning. This type of vandalism was probably more annoying for the cleanup crew than it was harmful.

Then came the big one – the stupid prank that went awry and could’ve easily meant the end of the monument as we all knew it. It left the monument shattered and broken, but not entirely beaten thanks to a small stroke of luck that made creating an exact replica possible.

Original Boll Weevil Monument in Depot Museum
On July 11, 1998, vandals ripped the boll weevil out of the statue's upstretched hands, and in the process tore off part of the lady's arms and sent cracks down her back. I think the word on why the damage was so severe was that the bug had been attached more strongly after the last theft, so wrenching it off the statue meant tearing the whole thing apart (I can’t remember the exact line on why the vandalism was so destructive, however, and can’t find that information in my files on the statue – I’m relying on a faded memory for that point).

On July 30, 1998, two Enterprise teens were arrested for the crime after an off-duty Enterprise police officer received an anonymous tip. Their names were never released. The boys led police to where the bug was buried in a wooded area near the Enterprise Country Club. However, the damage to the statue was such that the bug couldn't simply be stuck back on top. 

A Replica Fills the Void

The monument’s injuries were too severe to be easily repaired. The arms were in pieces and a crack ran down the statue's back. For more than five months, the base upon which the statue had stood remained empty in downtown Enterprise. 

The original plan was to eventually repair the original. Since that could take some time, a replica was created to fill the dismal blank spot where the lovely monument had stood for so long. It’s just by chance that creating an exact replica was even possible.
Atlanta hosted the 1996 Summer Olympics. The Atlanta History Museum had worked up a special display about the American South for all the tourists expected to swarm Atlanta attractions thanks to the Olympics. The museum wanted the actual Boll Weevil Monument to be relocated for the exhibit from summer 1996 until fall 1997. That idea got quashed, so a life-size replica was created instead.

Ken English, a craftsman from Elba, Alabama, cast a mold of the entire statue and the bug to create the replica for the museum. Later, when vandals damaged the original in 1998, his mold came out of storage and became an invaluable blueprint to make another replica, this one much sturdier than the one sent to the museum (it would be standing outside exposed to the elements, after all). The other replica, the one made for the Atlanta museum, was placed in the Enterprise mayor’s office.

Unveiling of replica
The big unveiling of the special replica made for downtown Enterprise took place on Dec. 15, 1998, preceding the Christmas parade. The replica was uncovered amidst a flurry of red, white and blue balloons floating toward the night sky, all accompanied by the cheering of thousands of spectators. So good is the replica that the only way to tell it from the original in photos is by looking at the date a picture was taken.
Museum Displays Original Statue

So what became of the idea to give a little reconstructive surgery to the original? Well, city leaders wanted to, but it was too expensive and difficult a task. It was hoped that the Smithsonian Institution would take on the repair project, but to my knowledge nothing ever came of that idea. The replica still stands in downtown Enterprise, while the original is on display at Enterprise’s Depot Museum less than a block away.

A security camera was perched on the WKMX radio building, situated on Main Street overlooking the statue, to stand watch over the beloved monument in an attempt to thwart further vandalism. A different radio station now occupies the building, but the “Weevil Cam” remains.


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