BRIDGEPORT, Conn. — A likeness of one of Bridgeport’s most legendary citizens is staying put outside the Margaret Morton Government Center.
So says Mayor Joe Ganim, whose administration had considered moving the prominent statue of African-American inventor Lewis Latimer to a spot outside the University of Bridgeport because the artwork was paid for with funds meant for street improvements in the South End.
But after facing some criticism from city leaders and the sculptor, who said a move might risk damage to the statue, the mayor has decided to leave Latimer alone.
“Lewis Latimer is a significant inventor in world history, and he is a proud symbol of everything Bridgeport strives to be: hard working, creative, brilliant and a light unto the world,” Ganim said in a statement.
The last reference hints at Latimer’s contributions to science and technology. A research partner of Thomas Edison, Latimer (1848-1928) is credited by some as the actual inventor of the light bulb, which he is holding in the statue.
The statue was purchased under Mayor Bill Finch for $65,000 in grant funds earmarked for the South End Neighborhood Revitalization Zone. Latimer was born in Massachusetts, but moved to Bridgeport in 1879 and lived on Whiting Street in the South End.
Ganim now said he believes the statue should stay outside the more prominent government center, which was named for the first African-American member of the Connecticut House of Representatives.
“Lewis Latimer is one of Bridgeport’s most prominent global citizens and we are extremely proud to honor him in front of our government center,” he said. “It should remain standing proudly in front of the Margaret Morton building as an inspiration to all who see it and as a reminder of everything Bridgeport can be.”