The Salisbury East Portal and Historical Markers
A Public Art Proposal prepared for the City of Salisbury, North Carolina
Wm. Culbertson, Artist ,  32 Warren Avenue, North Smithfield, RI 02896 email:  ;   401.766.6256 


Salisbury still 3b.jpg (205217 bytes)The Salisbury East Portal

The Salisbury East Portal’s main purpose is to act as a beacon welcoming visitors and residents to the Historic Downtown area. As a portal to the Downtown area, they clearly indicate that the viewer is passing into a “special” area. The intent of the columns is to demonstrate the pride the Salisbury community has in its historic past.

The Columns are designed to fit into the environment in a harmonious manner, not conflicting with the ambiance of the Historic District. The design and materials are related to the surrounding area. Brick was chosen as the main media as it has a strong traditional southern presence. The columns were designed with the intention that they do not take on a “dated” look over the years.



 Click here to download the 4 minute streaming Presentation video clip.  (.wmv file -Windows Media File





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Additional Images

Salisbury still 3a.jpg (232442 bytes)The Center Column

Located in the median of the East Innes road, close to the new railroad bridge, the center column stands approximately 36’ high. The flow of traffic is limited to 20 MPH along the East Innes Road bridge area.  The column has precast concrete base, bands and cap. The North and South sides of the column are veneer brick. The North and South sides have sculpted relief veneer brick. The relief sculpture features historical representations depicting Salisbury’s rich history. The design used on the model is only a preliminary design. It is intended to only portray the kind of design envisioned. A fully researched design would be necessary.

SB 23.jpg (366066 bytes)The preliminary design features brick with sculpted relief. The subject matter for the relief on the columns will be developed with community involvement to determine the most appropriate design to welcome visitors and to be the beginning of the City's History and Art Trail.  Above the sculpture relief is a lighted band area. Intended to serve as a beacon, the blue Plexiglas area is lit with long-life blue LED rope lighting.



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The Side Columns

column lg print copy.jpg (140371 bytes)Creating the portal/gateway effect, the side columns are smaller versions of the Center column, without the relief sculpture. They also feature signage marking the beginning of the History and Art Trail. The railing on the center signage section is similar to the railings used on the bridge in size, shape and color. The columns stand approximately 28’high.

The Banners

The vinyl banners are changeable with the seasons. The designs can be altered to meet the City needs as an informational conduit. The color, shape, text, and graphic designs can be changed.


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Historical Site SB 07.jpg (92055 bytes) Markers

The historical markers are modular units that are designed to compliment the East Portal Columns. They are to be located around the city at historic sites. The markers are color coded to coincide with the five historical categories designated in the Historical Trail and Art Draft: Early Salisbury, Civil War and Reconstruction, Railroad and Industrial Expansion, 20th Century, African-American History. Two styles are suggested, a wide marker with four panels and a narrow marker with two panels. The panels would be cut acrylic with a Lucite protective covering.

The panels would contain artwork depicting the site, and historical reference filling the needs of a walking tour. The color band at the top below the cap would change to match the historic category. The artwork can be derived by the artist, the Committee or additional separate art work commissioned with other artists.

The preliminary large marker dimensions are 60” x 20” x 20.”



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This is a preliminary proposal and is subject to design changes. Your input is welcome for consideration in the formulation of the final design. Please feel free to email the artist at:  You are also invited to visit the artist's web site at:



Serving historic Rowan County, North Carolina since 1905

The Salisbury Post

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

City Council endorses public art project for downtown entrance

By Mark Wineka

Salisbury Post

Salisbury City Council gave its enthusiastic endorsement Tuesday to a public art project that would create a dramatic welcome to downtown.

Council voted 5-0 to back the selection of Rhode Island artist William Culbertson's mostly brick design, which would be erected on East Innes Street between the railroad bridge and Long Street.

A model of the selected work will be on display over the next two weeks in the lobby of the Rowan County Convention and Visitors Bureau.

Culbertson's design emerged out of 140 original applications. It features a center column (in a median) roughly 36 feet high and with sculpted relief.

Columns on each side — smaller versions of the center column — would extend about 28 feet in the air.

Colorful banners, which could be changed with the seasons, punctuate the columns. The smaller columns would have fence-like appendages with insets describing the History and Art Trail, markers for which are now being produced.

Barbara Perry, chair of the Public Art Committee, said her members used phrases such as "timeless appeal" and "strong presence" in describing Culbertson's work. They also said it fits with the city and will be a piece that says "Welcome to Salisbury," she said.

"I think it's a beautiful project," Mayor Susan Kluttz said.

Mayor Pro Tem Paul Woodson called it "remarkable."

Perry's committee will initially seek grants from the Robertson Family Foundation and the N.C. Arts Council before pursuing other sources.

Culbertson has told the committee that it would take 18 months to two years to install the project after funding is in place.

The Public Art Committee, which grew out of the Community Appearance Commission and Downtown Salisbury Inc., has 17 members. A separate eight-person selection panel was chosen to reduce the 140 original applications to 20, then five.

The panel eventually invited three artists to Salisbury, and they came between Nov. 30 and Dec. 9 last year. The selection panel, which included Councilman Bill Burgin, met Feb. 23 and had conference calls with all three finalists before unanimously voting for Culbertson's project.

The Public Art Committee also was unanimous in its preference for Culbertson's idea.

His project would be the first of some of the larger public art installations envisioned for Salisbury in the coming years.

The History and Art Trail also will install a series of bronze markers to identify individuals, places and events significant to Salisbury's history. Fabrication has started on the first marker and six more are designed and ready to be produced.

Culbertson gave the selection panel a specially produced DVD to show how his project would look on its site from every angle, how it would be illuminated at night and how it would look in passing traffic. Perry and Lynn Raker, urban design planner for the city, played the DVD for council Tuesday.

"Could you tell he worked for Disney at one time?" Burgin asked after the DVD finished.

Culbertson works out of North Smithfield, R.I.

Contact Mark Wineka at 704-797-4263, or mwineka



©2006, The Salisbury Post


Preliminary Work Sheets
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Copyright 2006 Culbertson





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