On This Date In Twin Cities History - October 12, 1931

Dedication of the Christopher Columbus statue on October 12, 1931 (MHS)
Dedication of the Christopher Columbus statue on October 12, 1931 (MHS)

On this date in 1931, a 10-foot tall bronze sculpture of Christopher Columbus is dedicated on the grounds of the State Capitol in St. Paul. It was designed by famous Italian-American sculptor, Carlo Brioschi, who was born in Milan in 1879 and immigrated to the United States in 1899. The statue was a gift from Minnesota’s Italian-Americans.

In 1909 Brioschi moved to the Twin Cities. The sculpture was presented as a gift from Minnesota’s Italian-Americans. It sat on a 10 foot-tall red granite base embellished with carvings of sea shells and fish around the top and on either side are eagles with wings spread atop globe-shaped spheres. As part of a preservation effort undertaken in 1992, a bronze plaque was added to the front of the granite base to mark the 500th anniversary of the voyages of Columbus.

Unfortunately, on June 10, 2020, members of the American Indian Movement of Twin Cities, joined by other protesters, descended on the northeastern corner of the Capitol mall where they illegally vandalized the statue by looping a rope around it and pulling it off its granite pedestal.  No one was arrested at the event as State Troopers looked on from a distance. Troopers eventually formed a line to protect the statue before it was transported offsite.

The only person charged as a result of the vandalism was Ramsey County resident Michael Forcia. In December 2020, Forcia agreed to a plea deal and accepted 100 hours in community service in connection with the vandalism. Officials estimated the cost to repair the statue would be over $154,000.  As of 2021, bills had been introduced in both the MN State House and Senate to have the statue repaired and replaced.