Michael Grubb and his wife, Anne, stopped by the offices of the Friends of Washington Crossing Park in early March with a family photo album in hand.
Their visit was remarkable for a couple of reasons. For one, the Grubbs were living in Texas at the time. And Michael is the son of Larry Vincent Grubb, the primary stone cutter of the near-life-size statue fashioned after Emanuel Leutze’s famous painting of George Washington crossing the Delaware River that resides next to the Washington Crossing Inn.
The statue was crafted in and gifted to the Washington Crossing Foundation by the town of Bedford, Indiana, in honor of the bicentennial in 1976. The statue is a three-dimensional, 30-ton reproduction of Leutze’s painting of Washington and 11 soldiers battling through chunks of ice to cross the Delaware. It required 80 tons of limestone.
Larry Vincent Grubb, a lifelong stone cutter, shaped several of the figures, according to his son. He and the handful of stone cutters that worked on the statue were employees of Woolery’s Stone Co., the mill that was contracted by the town to create the statue. (It’s no longer in business, Michael says.) An outside carver, Frank Arena, was responsible for the detailing.
They worked through most of 1975 and some of 1976, though Michael’s father spoke little about it—he was generally a soft-spoken man who preferred not to talk about his work. Another 43 years would pass before Michael saw the completed statue for himself.
He remembers seeing some of the figures as they were being carved, but a photo album his dad filled with shots of their progress was Michael’s only point of reference for all these years.
Anne, his wife, made a special trip to see the statue in 2005 while she was in Washington, DC, for an academic competition with one of their daughters.
“She really urged me to see it,” Michael says. “I always had it in the back of my mind to see it, but living in the west and Indiana, I just never had the opportunity.”
Until a trip to Yale in early March to visit a family friend provided a convenient excuse to pass through Washington Crossing.
Michael says he was “gratified” to finally see the statue. “It was kind of a confirmation of all those photos that I’d been holding onto and the little bit about the statue’s making I’d heard from my father.”