Morris the Horse in need of repair, town says

Published 12:05 pm Friday, June 23, 2023

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Commissioners, mayor discuss need for repairs for Tryon mascot


TRYON-Tryon commissioners recently expressed concern about the state of the Morris the Horse statue in downtown Tryon.

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The landmark, which stands on the corner of Trade and Pacolet streets, has visible cracks in its sides which will continue to grow and possibly allow rainwater and other debris inside. Commissioner Bill Crowell said it seems to be getting worse by the month. 

“I’d say that within a year, it will deteriorate beyond repair,” says Crowell. “That’s my opinion as a metal worker.”

The last time Morris was renovated was during its “kidnapping” nearly ten years ago, staged by Tryon residents to perform maintenance on the statue after it had begun to rot and was infested with wasps. Since then, the only work done to Morris has been regularly cleaning.

“We do need to have work done on it. There’s no question about that. The next question is, is there a stopgap protected for a year or so because we just passed a budget. There’s no money [in the budget] to fix it,” says Mayor Alan Peoples.

The first version of Morris the Horse was built by Meredith Lankford and Odell Peeler, two employees of Tryon Toy Makers, to promote the first horse show held at Harmon Field in 1928, which was sponsored by Tryon Riding and Hunt Club. 

Various versions of the toy horse have stood as the mascot of Tryon. The wooden horse-on-wheels version was created in 1916. The current version is constructed of a composite of wood and fiberglass and is the fourth incarnation.

Morris is decorated for events throughout the year, even getting a large wreath around its neck for the winter holiday season. The town mascot has also inspired books and toys, has appeared on Christmas ornaments and tee shirts, and even has its own social media profiles.