Pay a visit to David Adickes’ larger-than-life Sam Houston statue in Huntsville

Photo courtesy of the City of Huntsville

Hop in the car and head north on I-45 to spot the colossal Sam Houston statue, A Tribute to Courage, standing watch over Huntsville.

The tallest statue of an American hero in the world, this 67-foot ode to the 7th governor of Texas is the creation of David Adickes, the Houston-area sculptor responsible for some of our city’s larger-than-life public art, including “Virtuoso” at the Lyric Center, his renowned President Heads, his quirky Beatles statues, and even the “We Love Houston” sign.

Standing on a 10-foot tall granite pedestal, the 25-ton monument, known as A Tribute to Courage and affectionately dubbed “Big Sam”, is made up of five layers of concrete laid over steel mesh attached to a welded steel framework.

Adickes first created the idea for the tribute to the famed general in the fall of 1991, with a goal set to have the colossal statue ready by March 2, 1993, in honor of Sam Houston’s 200th birthday. However, construction took more time than he thought and in fact, the dedication happened on October 22, 1994.

Visiting A Tribute to Courage

Although the monument is impossible to miss from the road, it can be a bit confusing on where best to exit if you’re looking to stop and snap a photo of our city’s namesake statue standing tall with his walking cane in hand.

Guests traveling from Houston are advised to take exit 109 for TX-40 toward Huntsville/State Park, turn right on State Park Road 40, and lastly, turn left onto S Sam Houston Avenue/Texas 75 where the Visitor Center and parking lot is easily accessible near the backside of the statue.

Within the Visitor Center, guests will find an assortment of information including videos, brochures, maps, and an employee to help with any questions you may have. There’s even a gift shop full of collectibles and memorabilia –if that’s your thing.

Photo courtesy of Huntsville, Texas

About Sam Houston

Born on March 2, 1793, Samuel Houston led the army of Texas during their War for Independence from Mexico in 1836, including the victory at San Jacinto (about 100 miles from the statue) where Texas won independence by defeating Mexican President Santa Ana in the field.

One of the founding fathers of Texas, Houston was elected as the first and third President of the Republic of Texas, he supported annexation by the United States (and became a U.S. Senator upon achieving it in 1845), and finally a governor of the State of Texas in 1859.

Notably, Houston became the only person to have been elected governor of two different U.S. states through popular election, as well as the only state governor to have been a foreign head of state.

Furthermore, as governor, Sam famously refused to swear loyalty to the Confederacy when Texas seceded from the Union in 1861 with the outbreak of the American Civil War, and he was removed from office. Houston retired to Huntsville, Texas, where he died before the end of the war on July 26, 1863.

About David Adickes

Though he began his art career as a painter, David Adickes has become highly regarded in Houston for his beloved sculptures, especially his U.S. president heads and Sgt. Pepper-era Beatles sculptures.

After studying in France and traveling extensively throughout the world, Adickes was commissioned in 1983 to make his first monumental sculpture, Virtuoso, at the Lyric Center in Downtown. 

Be on the lookout for Adickes’ giant pieces around Houston, including his aforementioned 36-foot abstract statues of The Beatles and realistic 18-foot busts of U.S. and Texas presidents as well as his “We Love Houston” sign, installed along the Katy Freeway in the Heights and his giant Art Sculpture at Sawyer Yards.

Photo courtesy of Huntsville, TX

David Adickes’ Sam Houston Statue in Huntsville

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Cody Swann is a writer and musician born and raised in Houston. When he isn't recording or touring the country with his band, Wild Moccasins, he can be found covering live music and arts events for 365 Things to Do in Houston.