A crowd numbering in the hundreds watched Thursday as a statue atop the Missouri Capitol dome in Jefferson City was lowered to the ground to undergo repairs.
The 10-foot, four-inch sculpture of Ceres, the Roman goddess of agriculture, was brought down from her perch 260 feet high for the first time since being installed 94 years ago. The statue was then placed on a flatbed trailer in a Capitol parking lot for public viewing for a couple of hours, although touching the figure was not permitted.
John Tandy of Jefferson City said the up close viewing of Ceres was a once in a lifetime experience.
“I doubt if I’ll get to see her restored again in another hundred years,” said Tandy. “It’s fantastic. It’s a moment in time that you can’t miss.”
Crews used a 550-ton crane secured by Chicago-based Bulley & Andrew Masonry Restoration LLC to remove the statue from its post. Bulley & Andrews is the contractor performing $50 million in renovation work on the capital building, including the $400,000 being spent to restore Ceres.
The statue is being transported to the Conservation of Sculpture and Objects Studio in Forest Park, Illinois where it’ll spend about one year being refurbished. Ceres has been nicked in several places from incidents such as lightning strikes.
Missouri Capitol Commission Chairwoman Dana Rademan Miller affectionately referred to Ceres’ journey as a “trip to the spa”. Jefferson City resident Kerri Martin thinks the sculpture’s beauty justifies the human references it’s getting.
“It seems silly to personify her so much, but she really is a work of art,” said Martin.
The statue has its own twitter handle where the public can check on its refurbishing progress.
Linda Johnson is one of the 14,000 state employees in Jefferson City. She works overnight hours handing technical support for the Missouri Highway Patrol. Johnson said her first job with the state was as an intern answering questions from school kids who constantly misidentified the statue as Thomas Jefferson.
“That’s one of the things that I’d tell people, I’d say it’s not Jefferson, it’s Ceres the goddess of agriculture,” said Johnson. “And they’re like ‘No, it’s Jefferson’, and I (would say), No, really! (laugh).”
Crews initially installed Ceres in three pieces in 1924. The bronze goddess was removed from atop the Capitol dome in one piece Thursday.
Restoration of the entire Capitol building exterior is expected to last through 2020, with hopes of having the Capitol ready to be unveiled for the next scheduled governor inauguration.
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