The Disappearance of a Bronze Top Hat: A Sculptor’s Tale of Lincoln’s Memorial in Kentucky

By Dec 12, 2023

The Disappearance of a Bronze Top Hat: A Sculptor’s Tale of Lincoln’s Memorial

The Disappearance of a Bronze-Introduction:

The Disappearance of a Bronze-In the heart of Louisville, Kentucky’s Waterfront Park, a larger-than-life sculpture of Abraham Lincoln has become a cherished icon, evoking the spirit of the 16th president’s visit to the state in the 1840s.

The Disappearance of a Bronze

The Disappearance of a Bronze- For over a decade, a distinctive bronze top hat adorned this impressive statue, securely bolted to its perch. However, recent events have taken an unexpected turn as the hat mysteriously vanished, prompting an investigation by the Louisville Metro Police. Renowned sculptor Ed Hamilton, the creative force behind the Lincoln memorial, expressed shock and disappointment over the disappearance in a social media post.

The Disappearance of a Bronze-This incident has not only raised questions about the security of public art installations but also underscores the emotional connection between the community and the iconic sculpture.

The Disappearance of a Bronze-The Sculptor’s Perspective:

The Disappearance of a Bronze-Ed Hamilton, the artist responsible for the Abraham Lincoln sculpture, first learned about the missing top hat on a Saturday morning through the Waterfront Development Corporation, a nonprofit overseeing the park.

The Disappearance of a Bronze-In a Facebook post, Hamilton lamented the theft, emphasizing the strength and determination required to pry the bronze hat from its securely bolted position.

Describing the hat as standing at about 2 feet tall and weighing up to 40 pounds, Hamilton revealed that it was bolted to the rock in two places.

The Disappearance of a Bronze-The larger-than-life Lincoln, seated on a rock, reaches a height of 8 feet, a stature that would tower over park goers at 12 feet if he were standing.

Hamilton, renowned for his public memorials up and down the East Coast, expressed surprise at the hat’s disappearance, given the memorial’s long history as a “quiet” and “sacred space” since its dedication in 2009. The artist recalled the memorial as a cherished jewel where people would sit, take pictures, and meditate.

Hamilton’s Artistic Vision:

Ed Hamilton’s artistic prowess extends beyond the Lincoln memorial in Louisville. Known for sculptures such as “The Unfinished March” featuring Martin Luther King Jr. in Virginia and “The Spirit of Freedom” honoring Black soldiers and sailors of the Civil War in Washington, DC, Hamilton is celebrated for his ability to capture historical narratives in bronze.

The Lincoln sculpture overlooking the Ohio River was created to commemorate the 16th president’s visit to Kentucky in the 1840s. Hamilton drew inspiration from Lincoln’s observations of riverboats loaded with slaves navigating the Ohio River, a tormenting sight for the future president.

The sculptor aimed to humanize Lincoln, making the memorial more personal and approachable, envisioning the figure as if inviting visitors to sit and engage in conversation.

Hamilton’s Hope and Resilience:

Despite the unexpected disappearance of the bronze top hat, Hamilton remains optimistic. He hopes for the hat’s return, expressing his intention to replace it if necessary. In a determined tone, he conveyed, “And then we’ll put it on there even stronger.”

This response not only reflects the artist’s commitment to preserving the integrity of his work but also highlights the resilience of public art in the face of challenges.


The disappearance of the bronze top hat from Abraham Lincoln’s memorial in Kentucky raises questions about the security of public art and the emotional bonds communities form with iconic sculptures. Ed Hamilton’s artistic vision, aimed at creating a more personal and approachable portrayal of Lincoln, emphasizes the role of public art in fostering connections and conversations.

As the investigation unfolds, the story of the missing top hat serves as a reminder of the challenges faced by artists in preserving their creations and the enduring impact of public sculptures on the communities they inhabit.

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