Rhode Islanders have Roger Williams to thank for its bustling capital of Providence. The London-born minister, theologian, and author founded Providence in 1636, where he was a fierce advocate for religious freedom.

The heart of the Roger Williams University campus in Bristol features a statue of the man himself. Students see him every day on their way to classes. Some even climb the rock upon which he stands and shake his hand as a good luck strategy before big exams. But when people look into his eyes, it turns out they’re not really looking at Roger Williams at all.

They’re looking at this guy:

Getty Images
Getty Images

That’s right. Red Sox legend Ted Williams was apparently the facial inspiration for this statue, and here’s why.

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Meet Armand M. LaMontagne

Armand M. LaMontagne is credited as the sculptor behind the Roger Williams Statue at Roger Williams University. A completely self-taught sculptor from Pawtucket, LaMontagne was inducted into the RI Heritage Hall of Fame in 1998 for his artistic contributions to the state.

LaMontagne was a state policeman for a few years, but when he realized it wasn’t for him, he turned his focus to the arts and moved to Florence, Italy with his wife, where he honed his natural talent in sculpture.

LaMontagne returned to Rhode Island and produced some of the most impressive sculptures, one being a life-sized sculpture of Ted Williams for the Baseball Hall of Fame.

Ted Williams was a hero to LaMontagne and the Rhode Island Heritage Hall of Fame shared that Ted Williams, himself, was brought to tears at the sculpture’s unveiling.

When LaMontagne was commissioned by RWU for the Roger Williams sculpture, he decided to use his hero’s face as his inspiration.

Roger Williams University
Roger Williams University

But, Why?

It turns out that there is no depiction of Roger Williams in artwork or a description of him written anywhere, so it’s anyone’s guess what the trailblazer looked like.

Today, Roger Williams University is a leading education institution serving over 5,400 students through its Undergraduate, Graduate, Law, and University College programs.

If you ever stop by the campus, don’t forget to shake Roger’s (aka Ted’s) hand.

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