JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — For the first time in nearly a century, Missouri’s capital city is no longer under the watchful eyes of Ceres. The bronze statue, who emulates the Roman goddess of agriculture, descended from her perch atop the Capitol Thursday.
A crowd onlookers — consisting of children, adults, state workers, and dogs — braved the snow and cold weather to welcome Ceres to the ground on Thursday. Some spectators brought folding chairs, others binoculars, and few bundled up in extra blankets to watch “history” being made.
“It’s historic…We have looked at her from afar for so long,” said Eve Stafford. “I’ve lived here almost all my life and something like this is plain historic.”
Several hundred people spent hours watching crews work and prepare Ceres for her descend and the gathered around the Capitol in droves to watch her touch down. Many pulled out cameras to film the event, which was also live streamed.
Once on the ground, Ceres was available for a public viewing period for a couple of hours. And while multitudes of people took “selfies” with the agricultural goddess, actually touching the statue was not permitted. Gov. Mike Parson, Lt. Gov. Mike Kehoe, and Secretary of State Jay Ashcroft were among those that came to see Ceres.
“It’s very historical and amazing…it’s just awesome. Something I’ll never see again in my lifetime,” said Sandy Robinett.
For those who were unable to attend the occasion in person, the Twitter account dedicated to Ceres — yes, the statue has her own Twitter — was giving updates throughout the day and included a livestream of the event.
More than a century ago, the Missouri Capitol Commission selected Ceres to stand atop the Capitol to signify the importance of agriculture to the State of Missouri. In her left arm, she holds a bundle of grain.
In 1924, crews tied a winch to an elm tree and a pulley system was used to hoist her in three pieces to the top of the Capitol dome, where she was installed. In 2018, crews will use a 550-ton crane to remove Ceres in one piece and place her on the flatbed of a trailer.
Following the public viewing, Ceres is being transported to the Conservation of Sculpture and Objects Studio, Inc. in Illinois for cleaning and conservation, which is anticipated to take approximately one year. The last time she underwent conservation was in 1995 when a crew restored her on top of the dome to prevent further deterioration to the metal, referred to as “bronze rot.”
At 10 feet, four inches tall, Ceres weighs approximately 1,500-2,000 pounds. She was brought down from her perch 260 feet high for the first time since she was installed 94-years-ago to undergo repairs.
“The Ceres statue is a beautiful treasure for the Capital City and the State of Missouri,” said Lt. Gov. Mike Kehoe in a previous statement. “The conservation of this historic piece of art will ensure she can be enjoyed by many more generations to come. As the goddess of agriculture, Ceres represents Missouri’s long history of supporting farmers and the agricultural industry in our great state.”
The $50 million restoration project on the Capitol building was contracted to Chicago-based Bulley & Andrew Masonry Restoration LLC. Roughly $400,000 of the project is for the restoration of Ceres.
The exterior restoration process is expected to last through 2020.
Alisha Shurr was a reporter for The Missouri Times and The Missouri Times Magazine. She joined The Missouri Times in January 2018 after working as a copy editor for her hometown newspaper in Southern Oregon. Alisha is a graduate of Kansas State University.