The 2019 Wisconsin State Capitol ornament, presented by the Wisconsin Historical Foundation, is now available for purchase at Prairie Flowers & Gifts, located at 245 E. Main St. in downtown Sun Prairie.
“The 2019 ornament is a tribute to the centennial celebration of Wisconsin’s Suffrage (1919-2019) and the famous ‘Forward’ sculpture which presides in front of the entrance of the west wing of the State Capitol,” said Julie Lussier, executive director of the Wisconsin Historical Foundation. “All proceeds from the sale of these ornaments will support the State Capitol Restoration Fund.”
“We’re honored and excited to offer the ornament for the first time,” said Dina Pocernich, owner of Prairie Flowers & Gifts. “The ornament celebrates the hard work of many amazing women who persevered and advanced the right for women to vote. It’s a great gift for a girlfriend, a history buff or anyone who loves Wisconsin.”
The “Forward” sculpture was created by Jean Pond Miner, who was born in 1865 in Menasha and grew up in the Madison area. She graduated from Downer College in Fox Lake and continued her studies at the Art Institute of Chicago.
Miner signed a contract with the State Board of World’s Fair Managers of Wisconsin on Sept. 15, 1892, to design and produce a statue representative of her native state.
The Janesville Ladies Afternoon Club recommended Miner for an artist-in-residence position at the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition to be held in Chicago. Miner completed “Forward” at the Exposition, and it was displayed there.
After the fair, Wisconsin women raised funds to produce a permanent statue of Miner’s clay “Forward.” In 1895, the Legislature passed a bill to place the statue at the State Capitol. “Forward” was installed on the lawn near the east entrance atop a granite pedestal with a bronze plate that read “Forward, Wisconsin Women’s Memorial of the Columbian Exposition, 1893.”
On Oct. 22, 1895, the statue was unveiled “with a formal dedication to Women’s Suffrage,” and Mrs. John Winans of Janesville, President of the Ladies Board of Managers of the World’s Fair Commission, presented it to the state “in the name of the women of Wisconsin.”
“Choosing the sculpture, ‘Forward’ to represent the Capitol ornament this year is fitting since it’s the same year that Wisconsin will celebrate the centennial anniversary of being the first state to ratify the 19th amendment,” said Patience D. Roggensack, Chief Justice of the Wisconsin Supreme Court.
“Wisconsin has a rich history of strong, entrepreneurial women paving the way for women’s rights. The Wisconsin suffrage story is just one of many for important firsts. The woman of this state fought hard for the historic action of ratifying the 19th amendment and continue to influence the many strong, powerful women who have come after them,” said State Sen. Jennifer Shilling.
Since 2004, the proceeds from ornament sales have supported over $75,000 in restoration projects around the Capitol building. Previous ornament sales have helped to fund the visitor’s bird’s eye view from the glass perch inside the dome of the State Capitol.
The ornament is set in a special gift box and will be available for purchase while supplies last at Prairie Flowers & Gifts, Orange Tree Imports, Wisconsin Historical Museum, State Capitol Tours, Monona Terrace, The Bruce Company, MMoCA, Tis the Season and the Executive Residence. Online ornament purchases may be made by visiting wisconsinhistory.org/capitolornament.
The Wisconsin Historical Foundation exists to advance the mission of the Wisconsin Historical Society: to help people connect to the past by collecting, preserving and sharing stories. The Wisconsin Historical Foundation, a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt organization, receives grants and private contributions benefitting the Society and administers the membership program. Visit wisconsinhistory.org for more information.