Borglum, J.G. ah.jpg
Induction Category & YearArts and Entertainment 1978
Home TownBear Lake, ID
BirthMarch 25, 1867
Bear Lake, ID
Glendale, CA

   John Borglum
Champion of Excellence

 John Gutzon Borlum, born in 1867, was the son of an immigrant Danish physician. He is widely respected and admired for his larger than life carving of the great Mt. Rushmore in the Black Hills of South Dakota. His artistic talent becoming evident early, he studied in Paris for three years. In 1893, he returned to the U.S. and spent two years in California absorbing local color and studying wildlife. Afterwards, he spent six years in England.

Borglum was winning acclaim as an artist and opened a studio in New York. In 1901, he began producing what one historian has termed “a prodigious output which was soon to place him among America’s foremost sculptors.” <p>In 1915, five years after Borglum had moved his studio from New York to Connecticut, a Georgia newspaperman suggested that a monument be carved on Stone Mountain. Borglum was invited to do the carving. He immediately rejected the suggestion that a modest monument to Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee be built, and conceived a vast granite panorama, 1,500 feet long, of marching Confederate military forces. <p>Some preliminary work was done in the next two years, but it wasn’t until 1922 that major work started. So also started a major feud between Borglum and Hollins N. Randolph, president of the Stone Mountain Monumental Association. <p>Affairs came to a head in 1925, and with a portion of the project already completed the association fired Borglum. Soon after he packed his bags and headed for South Dakota. The sculptor arrived in the Black Hills, not knowing exactly what was to be carved, or where or who was going to pay for it. <p>Having settled on a tentative design and having chosen Mount Rushmore, on Oct. 1, 1925, Borglum staged a colorful dedication aimed at least partly at attracting private funds for the project. <p>On August 10, 1927, President Calvin Coolidge stood on a platform before 1,700 people at the base of Mount Rushmore. “We have come here to dedicate a cornerstone that was laid by the hand of the Almighty, “ he said. “… The Union of … Four presidents carved on the face of the everlasting hills of South Dakota will constitute a distinctly national monument. It will be decidedly American in its conception, in its magnitude, in its meaning, and altogether worthy of our country.” <p>In 1939, the last of the four faces on the mountain began to take shape and on July 2, 1939 the four faces of Mt. Rushmore were dedicated.

Home Town (Bear Lake, ID)
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