TOP PHOTO: Bill Claiborne, Tally Town organizer, shares some history about why Jeff Banning carved the Statue of Liberty replica. At first, it was going to be of Domenico Lobertini, and then it was decided a carving of the Statue of Liberty would be done since so many families came to this area through Ellis Island during La Follette’s early days.

So now she greets visitors as they enter Peoples Bank of the South’s downtown La Follette offices. She stands just inside the main entrance in the outer lobby. You are welcome to stop by, see and snap a photo.

LAFOLLETTE, TN (SPECIAL TO WLAF) – Lady Liberty, the commissioned wood-carved Statue of Liberty replica from the Tally Town Festival, has a home. David Hickman of Peoples Bank of the South arranged a welcoming spot in the lobby of the bank’s main office in Downtown La Follette.

Bill Claiborne, organizer of this summer’s Tally Town Festival, describes the wooden creation as a massive symbol of Campbell County’s Italian Heritage. “Peoples Bank of the South was a major sponsor of the festival, and David’s advocacy was key to getting the event off the ground,” said Claiborne.

Tom Hatmaker arrived right on time, 1:30pm, last Tuesday, and then it was all hands on deck to unload Lady Liberty from the trailer.

The statue, created by chainsaw sculptor Jeff Banning, commemorates the immigration of approximately 40 families from Italy via Ellis Island to the coal fields of Tennessee beginning around 1895 and continuing through the early 1900s.

The Festival was presented July 29th at Liberty Park by the Campbell County Historical Society, WLAF, and in association with the City of La Follette, and began as a celebration of the 100th anniversary of the Piedmont Hotel, later known as the Fleet (Oil) Building.  

Getting unloaded was just part of the job. Next is getting it inside the bank.

The hotel was built in 1923 by Italian immigrant and Tally Town patriarch Domenico Lobertini. Lobertini named the building for his home in the Piedmont region of Northern Italy.  This area, around Brescia, is where most of Campbell County’s Italian immigrants originated.

Once inside, getting her upright, making sure the ceiling is high enough and then standing up the 12-feet tall figure.

“Special thanks to Tom Hatmaker for facilitating this project. He offered the tree, the place for Banning to work and all of the transportation. He helped us move it from his trailer to the bank lobby last Tuesday,” said Claiborne. (WLAF NEWS PUBLISHED-09/12/2023-6AM-PHOTOS COURTESY OF WLAF’S CHARLIE HUTSON)

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