David Adickes created the idea of the colossal statue as a tribute to General Sam Houston. The goal was to have a giant statue ready by March 2, 1993 for the 200th birthday of Sam Houston. However, construction took more time than he thought and in fact, the dedication happened on October 22, 1994.
The colossal statue is named "A Tribute to Courage" by David Adickes, but is often dubbed "Big Sam". To create Big Sam, Adickes needed to transform 30 tons of concrete and steel into the bigger than life monument. A life size plaster version was fashioned during the fall of 1991.
He started the project in early 1992, not exactly certain how he would accomplish the task. He admitted that It was really a work of engineering without any blueprint.
The W.S. Gibbs Farm on 75 North in Huntsville was used as a construction site and offered in-kind by Sam Houston State University.
Big Sam consists of five layers of concrete laid over steel mesh attached to a welded steel framework. For more information on this process, please visit the Construction Photos page.
Standing proudly on a 10-foot Texas sunset granite base, the colossal statue of Sam Houston is visible from the south for 6.5 miles.
David Adickes raised his own funding to defray construction costs. The Huntsville-Walker County Chamber of Commerce raised the necessary funds for the foundation, the granite base and the erection of the statue through the sale of Brick Pavers. The city constructed a visitors center and a park with local hotel occupancy tax dollars. The center is operated by the City of Huntsville as a part of their Tourism and Cultural Services Department.
The dedication ceremony for the statue was scheduled for October 22, 1994. The community was really looking forward to the event, but horrible weather invaded southeast Texas on October 15-19 causing disastrous flooding in parts of 38 nearby counties. It was questionable if Mother Nature might cancel the dedication. Precautions were taken to prepare the very wet grounds surrounding the statue but the sun began to shine on October 22.
The dedication ceremony included such notables as Texas Governor Ann Richards, CBS Anchorman and SHSU Alum Dan Rather, U.S. Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison, State Representative Allen Hightower, State Senator Jim Turner, former Tennessee Governor Lamar Alexander (a Republican presidential candidate), and U.S. Republican Charles Wilson.
There were mayors, judges, council members, commissioners and other elected and appointed officials from throughout Walker County, and descendants of Sam Houston and Joshua Houston, David Adickes family and friends and Houston TV personality Ron Stone. And, of course, thousands of Huntsville citizens who contributed cash donations to the Stand with Sam campaign which helped to pay the costs of the base and to erect the statue.
Some of the media present included CNN, The Wall Street Journal and The New York Times.
Representatives from the Texas Department of Criminal Justice, the Trinity River Authority and Sam Houston State University, and many local supporting businesses were also present.
Reverend Earnest Grover, pastor of the First Baptist Church on 10th Street, gave the invocation. Adickes daughter, Mary, christened the statue.