Sand Casting

Franklin Bronze Plaques making its mark across country with bronze memorial plaques

By JUDITH O. ETZEL Staff writer

Franklin Bronze Plaques in Franklin made hundreds of individual plaques in 2009, and one of the six-member staff’s favorites was a bronze memorial plaque at Sather Air Force Base in Iraq. The monument was an international effort with Kuwait, Iraq and the U.S. all providing parts of the memorial. A new contract just signed by the local company could put its signature works in communities across the nation. A Franklin company may soon have its wares installed in noteworthy streets, neighborhoods and public spaces all across the U.S.

As expansive as it sounds, the goal is on track to happen this year for Franklin Bronze Plaques, a small company owned by Cynthia Linnon, Marianne Becker and Lois Barber and nestled inside the industrial park on Franklin’s Howard Street. Less than four years into launching the company, formerly a small division of the much larger and older Franklin Bronze & Alloy Co., the locally owned company has been doing extensive work for global and diverse customers. Its client base is about to become much larger in a new American Planning Association project that recognizes “Great Streets, Great Neighborhoods, Great Open Spaces” across the country. The recognition extends from Chicago’s Lincoln Park to downtown Fargo, N.D., to North Main Street in Wheeling, W. Va.

Each community will tout that recognition with a solid bronze, customized plaque made by the Franklin company. Places are selected annually and represent “the gold standard in terms of having a true sense of place, cultural and historical interest, community involvement and a vision for tomorrow,” the national association notes.

The description fits into the Franklin Bronze Plaques scope of work, a factor that prompted the American Planning Association to strike a deal with the local company. “We have been chosen to be the exclusive manufacturer for those plaques,” said Linnon, who serves as company president. “It is starting 2010 off very well.” While the new contract further expands the small company’s client listing, it comes at a time when business is buzzing at Franklin Bronze Plaques. “We designed and made about 1,500 different plaques in 2009 and they have been installed in the U.S., Europe, Iraq and Afghanistan,” said Linnon.

The subjects range from plaques honoring former Texas Gov. Ann Richards and former U.S. Sen. Peter Domenici of New Mexico to a Holocaust memorial in Florida, a U.S. Coast Guard honor unit, a centennial plaque at Pearl Harbor, the 450th anniversary of the Jamestown Colony founding, a California speedway medallion, a yellow dog lantern replica and more.

Some of the works, made of either cast bronze or cast aluminum, are fancy with bas-relief sculpture while others contain only a headstone inscription. Many are as big as a dining room table while others are only inches long. Their weight can range from 20 ounces to 500 pounds. They have been installed on ships, veterans’ memorials, buildings, in-ground, courtyard sculptures and tombstones. The company offers a large assortment of colors, borders, etchings, languages and artistic images.

Prices range from $100 to nearly $10,000, depending on the size and customizing.

Linnon said one of the more interesting bronze productions was a joint memorial by Iraq, Kuwait and the U.S. at Sather Air Force Base in Iraq. A large memorial plaque in a star-shaped piece of marble honors the late Staff Sgt. Scott Sather. The Iraqis made the base and landscaped the area, the marble was ordered from Kuwait and the plaque made in the U.S., making it “a truly international accomplishment,” wrote Air Force Col. Vincent Savino to Linnon.

“...The memorial looks incredible,” wrote Savino. “Customer service was absolutely phenomenal - my hat is off to Franklin Bronze Plaques.”