That three-foot tall eagle inspired the Oldhams to try to find one for the lawn of the TTU president’s residence, Walton House, when Phil Oldham became the university president in July 2012.
Soon after he took office, TTU alumnus Charles Hawkins gave Oldham a large wooden eagle. When Oldham and Hawkins met, they came to realize they had been neighbors on Signal Mountain, and that Hawkins was the owner of that impressive metal lawn eagle Oldham had passed many times.
Hawkins, ’53, was asked to find an eagle for Walton House.
“I worked on it a little while and said I couldn’t find one,” Hawkins said. “Cheryl (Montgomery, TTU College of Business development officer) said she had every confidence that I would find one so I kept looking and I found this one. I bought it without seeing it.”
After three weeks of trawling the internet for metal eagles, Hawkins found a 1,500-pound, seven-foot statue in an antique store in Duncanville, Penn. Rather than making the more than 10-hour drive to look at it, Hawkins bought it and had it shipped to Cookeville.
Several Cookeville businesses came together to help get the statue from Pennsylvania and prepare it to be installed at Walton House. Averitt Express transported it and Stone Steel Co. and Automotive Enterprises worked to restore it and prepare it so it will be impervious to the elements. TTU Facilities built the brick and limestone 1,000-pound pedestal for the eagle.
“We are so grateful to the Cookeville community for coming together to make this vision a reality for Walton House,” said TTU first lady Kari Oldham.
After several months of polishing and painting, the eagle, nicknamed Charlie after Hawkins, is ready to place in the circular garden of the Walton House drive. TTU will unveil the statue in a public dedication ceremony from 1 p.m. to 2 p.m. Friday, Feb. 1, at Walton House, 1155 N. Dixie Avenue on the TTU campus.
Charlie the Eagle is the latest of more than 40 eagles Hawkins has donated to various TTU employees over the years. It will be the largest eagle statue on the university campus.