Troy’s Millennium Torch spins

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, December 29, 1999

true thanks to perfect symmetry


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Dec. 28, 1999 11 PM

Carrying the torch into the new Millennium is one thing. Building it is another.

Sculptors Larry and Ronald Godwin of Brundidge were commissioned with that task and, after some feats of designing and engineering, they were equal to the task.

The artist/brother duo is putting the final touches on the Millennium Torch that will burn eternally at the Troy City Complex after it is dedicated May 6.

The idea for the Millennium Torch originated with the city’s Y2K committee.

"The committee was asked to come up with something permanent to commemorate the turn of the century and the new Millennium," said Troy Mayor Jimmy Lunsford. "The committee’s idea was a torch with an eternal flame. Ruth Walker designed the torch and we commissioned Larry and Ronald Godwin of Brundidge to sculpt a torch in bronze.

"In everything we do at the complex, we try to focus and accentuate local artists. All of the works of art at City Hall were created by local artists. The Godwins are nationally-known artists and we wanted them as sculptors of the city’s torch."

The torch had to be absolutely symmetrical and the Godwin brothers decided the best way to obtain this symmetry was with a vertical lathe.

"Larry designed the lathe and I built it," Ronald said. "By adjusting a movable armature, we could shape the clay as it turned. It spins absolutely true."

However, much design and engineering work had to be done before the skeleton of the torch was ready to be covered with clay.

"Because the torch is smaller at the base and because there had to be piping for the gas to fuel the flame, we ran a metal support pipe through the center of the torch," Larry said. "We constructed a skeleton of steel around the pipe and then covered it with a network of wire and rods to form the structure on which to build the clay."

The structure was covered with one-half to three-quarters of an inch of clay and shaped by the spinning of the vertical lathe.

The torch is letter with the words, "Troy" and "2000" with side panels that depict several historical events in Troy.

A wax mold will be made of the torch and the mold will be shipped to a foundry in Colorado where it will be cast in bronze.

The torch will be on permanent display in the center of the block between Walnut and Elm streets. It will be installed on a three-foot base, making it an imposing work at more than nine feet in height.

"The Millennium Torch will be a work of art that our citizens can take great pride in for the next one thousand years," Lunsford said. "We look forward to unveiling it on May 6 at the culminating event of our year-long millennium celebration and it becoming the focal point of our city complex."