Historic statue to be moved

A statue of the famous Viking explorer Leif Erikson has been looking out over Shilshole Bay since 1962. It will soon be surrounded by the inscriptions of hundreds of Scandinavian immigrants who will donate money to have their names etched into its new base.

The statue will also be moved to a more prominent location at the Shilshole Bay Marina, as part of a huge renovation project by the Port of Seattle. After being refurbished by the Port of Seattle, it will be reinstalled on a new square d, six-foot high Norwegian granite base, all being planned by the Leif Erikson Foundation.

Internationally recognized artist Jay Haavik, will design the memorial. He is the grandson of the former pastor of Ballard First Lutheran Church, the Rev. O.L. Haavik.

The Foundation's committee chairperson, Kristine Leander said the group's goal is to get 500 to 1,000 people to donate $125 to have their names on the granite base, which will be covered with rune stones.

They are asking Scandinavian immigrants to participate by contributing money so their names, country of origin and the year they came to Seattle can be added to the base.

"Anyone who was born in Scandinavia and moved to the Northwest can buy a name for the plaque," said Leander, who also serves as president of the Leif Erikson Foundation.

When the statue is moved to the new location just north of where it is now, it will be in a more user-friendly setting so the community can hold celebrations around it, she said. A fountain and plaza are to surround the statue.

The statue will be lowered so people standing underneath it can see it more easily. Leif Erickson will still face the water with a view of Shilshole Bay.

"We are moving the statue as part of our redevelopment," said Mick Schultz, spokesperson for the Port of Seattle. "It's more prominent and closer to a restaurant and marina building as part of a public space."

When the 1962 World's Fair was held in Seattle, a group calling themselves the Leif Erikson League began a five-year project to build the statue for the Shilshole Marina. It was inaugurated on June 17, 1962.

An inscription on the current base states that in 1000 AD. Leif Erikson navigated westward and discovered the North American continent.

The Leif Erikson Foundation came together in 1994 with the goal of creating a replica of the Viking for the City of Trondheim, Norway. It was completed and delivered in 1997.

In 2000, the Foundation started up again to help raise funds for another Leif Erikson replica in Greenland.

"It was the homestead of Leif Erikson and his father Eric the Red," said Leander.

This latest project honors Leif Erikson and Scandinavian immigrants who helped build America and the Ballard community.

A portion of the money paid for each name on the granite will go towards the Nordic Heritage Museum's new building fund. They are in the planning stages of building a new museum at the Fenpro Building on Market Street.

The Port of Seattle maintains the statue. The Foundation is now negotiating a contract with the Port to decide on specifics of maintenance and other issues after the statue is relocated.

Renovation of the Shilshole Marina has been in the works for eight years. A new marina building and new docks will be added as part of the $80 million project.

The Shilshole Bay Marina is a liveaboard community with 300 boats used as living spaces.

Reconfiguration of the docks is being done over the course of several years, one section at a time. Some of the docks will be wider to accommodate larger boats, 30-feet or bigger.

The new building and plaza was designed by Mithum Architecture, the same firm that worked on the REI building in downtown Seattle.

The renovation project is expected to be finished in April 2008.

Anyone wishing to add his or her name to the Leif Erikson statue's new granite base, or to make a donation, call 778-1081.

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