They helped open up the territory of Michigan and establish Detroit in 1701, and the “Fantastic Four” continue to contribute to the state’s beauty.
Keep Michigan Beautiful, Inc., an official state organization to combat litter and to promote beautification, has selected the Fantastic Four — on-campus statues of Antoine Laumet de la Mothe Cadillac; Father Jacques Marquette; René-Robert Cavelier, Sieur de La Salle; and Father Gabriel Richard — to be awarded with the Michigan Plaque.
Located between the Faculty/Administration Building and the Towers Residential Suites, the 10-foot figures carved in sandstone were relocated to their current location in 2017 to make way for the Anthony Wayne Drive Apartments. The project, which highlights the statutes as a group while enhancing greenspace in their former location, will be celebrated on Oct. 18 in Lansing at Keep Michigan Beautiful’s annual awards banquet.
Commissioned in 1884 by lumber baron Bela Hubbard, the statues — carved by sculptor Julius Melchers — honor four French pioneers who were instrumental in the establishment of Detroit.
The statues were gifted to Wayne State University in 1960 when Detroit City Hall was demolished. Since then, Wayne State has displayed them in various locations on campus and worked to preserve these works of art. In 2010, the Women of Wayne Alumni Association committed their support to conserve the statues, which received cleaning and restoration before being placed in their new home.
Wayne State Facilities Planning and Management oversaw relocation efforts, and relocation was coordinated through Gilbane Building Company, the general contractor for the Anthony Wayne Drive Apartments.
Keep Michigan Beautiful’s objective is to identify, recognize and honor programs or projects that involve beautification, litter prevention and control, recycling of waste materials, clean¬up, site restoration, and historical preservation.