A car statue that was commissioned by Arvin Industries to commemorate the grand opening of its former headquarters building will make a permanent return to the same location in the spring after being out of public view.

The statue, created by sculptor J. Seward Johnson Jr., was previously located at the roundabout near the current Bartholomew Consolidated School Corp. administration building, 1200 Central Ave. ArvinMeritor, which later changed its name to Meritor, sold its former headquarters to the school district in 2005.

The sculpture, known as “When I Was Your Age,” was relocated to the company’s new headquarters in the Walesboro Industrial Park of Columbus. Now known as Faurecia, the company reconditioned the sculpture in 2014 at a cost of about $60,000 and has been kept inside since then, said Dawn Swindle, Faurecia spokeswoman.

“Having a positive local involvement in our communities is part of who we are at Faurecia,” Swindle said. “We are proud to lead this special initiative and look forward to getting a piece of local history back out for all to enjoy.”

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The school district plans to place the statue just off the roundabout on 13th Street, surrounded by decorative security fencing, Superintendent Jim Roberts said.

The Smithsonian Institution website describes the bronze sculpture that depicts a full-scale replica of a man in 1930s clothing with a long-sleeved shirt rolled to his elbows beside the front fender of a 1931 Model A Ford. The individual is depressing a tire pump to inflate the front left tire of the vehicle.

A young boy sits inside the car with his hands on the steering wheel, according to the Smithsonian Institution summary of the sculpture, which was commissioned in May 1989 and dedicated in 1991.

The statue was symbolic of the company’s beginnings as the Indianapolis Air Pump Co. in 1919.

Roberts said BCSC plans to put the statue on its property about 17 feet away from the wall of the adjacent United Way of Bartholomew County building. A sidewalk will be constructed off 13th Street to a circular area modeled to look like the roundabout, he said.

Faurecia, the Arvin Foundation and The Heritage Fund — The Community Foundation of Bartholomew County are providing funds to create the display area and install a protective pergola, Swindle said.

“Our goal is to make this a true community effort,” she said, noting that the project is still in the early planning phase.

Faurecia also hopes to use high school students with the planning process. The sculpture is expected to be installed in the spring, Swindle said.

About the statue

The statue, “When I Was Your Age” was commissioned by Arvin Industries to commemorate the grand opening of its former headquarters. It was created by sculptor J. Seward Johnson Jr. and was commissioned in May 1989 and dedicated in 1991, according to the Smithsonian Institute.

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Matt Kent is a reporter for The Republic. He can be reached at 812-379-5712 or mkent@therepublic.com