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City Manager Chris Morrill thinks Roanoke's original seal is less cluttered and does a better job of reflecting both the city's past and its future.
Saturday, March 2, 2013
It kind of socked him in the eye, Roanoke City Manager Chris Morrill said, when he rounded the corner and saw the big round plaque of the city seal hanging outside state Sen. John Edwards’ third-floor office in the General Assembly Building in Richmond.
It didn’t look much better outside Del. Onzlee Ware’s office on the eighth floor: Justitia, aka Lady Justice, in blue, squatting by a golden, but broken, train axle shoved in a mudbank, a golden train passing before a cityscape of viaducts and smokestacks.
“It looks like the industrial revolution,” said Councilman David Trinkle. “And there’s stuff in the river.”
Morrill got curious and in a quiet moment or two started looking into the whens and whys of the seal. It turns out, the current seal was a 1906 redesign.
City Clerk Stephanie Moon went down to the basement of city hall to root around in the archives and see if she could find the original — and came up with the water-stained pen-and-ink drawing by a local engraver named Kennedy Palmer that became the fledgling city’s official seal in 1884.
It features a standing, slimmer Justice, and a steam locomotive pulling a passenger train — not the open-door boxcars of the 1906 version — past two Blue Ridge peaks.
Palmer, who worked for Stone Printing Co., designed the typeface, too — there’s no capital letter A with a flourish quite like his anywhere else.
Morill thinks it looks better. So he’s asking the city council to consider changing the seal back.
“I’ll probably get a lot of grief,” he said. “But I think it reflects our past and where we’re going better than the current one.”
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