A delicate project Monday morning removed a historic statue from the top of the Vermont State House, and carefully brought it to the ground.
A carved statue of Ceres, the Roman goddess of agriculture, is fourteen feet tall and sat atop the golden dome of the Vermont State House for 80 years. The statue had replaced a previous one that occupied the spot.
However, her age and the harsh weather that she's exposed to left the wooden statue of Ceres rotting from the inside out.
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"I don't have any nerves, but I’m definitely emotional," David Schutz, the curator of the Vermont State House, said Monday as he watched riggers put straps on Ceres to prepare her for her journey to the ground.
Schutz said the emotions he was feeling came from reflecting on how much history Ceres must have witnessed from her perch starting in 1938, as well as how many Vermonters and tourists visiting the landmark have admired her in that time.
"You don’t get to see a statue taken off the top of a state house dome too often," said Will Schebaum of Montpelier. "Pretty exciting!”"
Ceres weighed just over 4,000 pounds, according to a measurement taken by Demag Riggers and Crane Service of Williston.
Gov. Phil Scott came to watch the work and snap pictures.
"It’s a historic moment, obviously – the end of an era," Scott remarked.
The next era calls for $2 million in repairs and preservation work, including new paint for the drum of the Vermont State House, and new gold leaf for its dome.
Additionally, several leaks in the dome need patching, and a brand-new statue of Ceres is being commissioned, Schutz said.
The curator peered into the bottom of the statue and felt significant evidence of rot, he said.
"She is very, very wet," Schutz observed, saying the old Ceres needs to be dried out and cleaned up before her retirement to a museum exhibit about Vermont state history and the sergeant-at-arms who carved the statue.
Schutz said if all goes well, the plan is to have a new statue installed atop the golden dome by November or December.