Public Sculpture in Grand Rapids

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Anna Sutherland Bissell

Artist: Ann Hirsch
Medium: Bronze
Provenance: Donated by the family of Peter Secchia. Unveiled July 21, 2016. This one of a series of 25 bronze sculptures donated to the city by the Community Legends Project funded and endowed by Peter Secchia.
Location: West side of DeVos Place Convention Center along the river.

Following is an excerpt from an announcement of the dedication of this statue published by the  Greater Grand Rapids Women's History Council: 

"Anna Sutherland Bissell was an innovative, progressive businesswoman who built a small carpet sweeper company into an international giant. Her business career began with her marriage to Melville Bissell and their move to Grand Rapids from Kalamazoo in 1871 to expand their crockery and china business.

"They were a well-matched team. Melville was a skilled inventor and craftsman, and Anna understood marketing and business development. After Melville developed a functional carpet sweeper in 1876, Anna sold their product from town to town, building a broad customer base.

After Melville's death in 1889, Anna became chief executive officer and over the next 30 years built the company into the largest firm of its kind in the world. She initiated progressive labor policies, including workers compensation insurance and pension plans, long before these were widespread in industry.

"She supported  the Union Benevolent Association, now Blodgett Memorial Medical Center, and the Clark Memorial Home, what is today the Clark Retirement Community.  A member of First Methodist Church, Bissell served as a trustee of that church, taking her husband's place on the board after he died and serving until her death in 1934.  In a 1934 article, The Grand Rapids Herald claimed that she was "the first woman ever" to serve as a trustee of a Methodist Episcopal church. 

"Anna Sutherland Bissell was inducted into the Michigan Women's Hall of Fame in 1989 and in 1990 Bissell's work brought her an honored place in the Junior Achievement of Michigan Great Lakes Business Hall of Fame."

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