The original 116-year-old Greek goddess of divine law is back in McLennan County but homeless.
County leaders hope that isn’t the case for long, although they intend not to rush to find a home for the Themis statue that had long sat atop the county courthouse. Instead, they want to find a place that suits her significance.
“We would be interested in hearing from the community about it, although we would think it needs to be under the control of a city or a university or something that puts a significant amount of thought into security and those kinds of things,” McLennan County Judge Scott Felton said. “In other words, we wouldn’t want it as a permanent part of a new dance hall or anything like that.”
Meanwhile, the new 18-foot duplicate is scheduled to make her move to the top of the courthouse Jan. 6, 2018 if weather conditions allow.
County commissioners opted to have the statue replicated rather than repaired due to her fragility. The monument’s arm and scales of justice were ripped off by 65 mph wind gusts in a 2015 storm and more than a century of weathering the climate from her 150-foot perch atop the courthouse has worn down the historic zinc figure.
Montgomery Construction took down and delivered the statue to Robinson Iron Co. in Alexander City, Alabama, where the work was completed. Montgomery Construction — which has offered to donate a display case — recently brought both statues to McLennan County and are prepping the new one for her downtown Waco ascension. The original still rests on two, queen-size inflatable air mattresses inside an 8-by-16-foot wooden crate.
The original Themis was taken apart into 60 pieces, which were scanned to then allow for molds, said Mike Anderson, Montgomery Construction general manager. The new Themis even includes hail indentions that the original received over the years.
“That’s how exact it is,” Anderson said. “It even transformed the hail dents to the new one. Every detail is exactly like the original.”
One aspect that changed was the material.
The new Themis weighs about 1,700 pounds, or 1,000 pounds heavier than the original, Anderson said. The original statue was made of hollow zinc, which is as thin as the wall of a soft drink can, Anderson said. The new statue — which should last 200 years — was made of cast aluminum, he said.
“I don’t think we’ll be around to take it down the next time,” Anderson said.
But it wasn’t just the material that added to the original statue’s fragility. Age played a factor.
“You could actually thump this statue and knock a hole in it,” he said. “That’s how frail it is.”
The original Themis has been taken apart and repaired numerous times over its lifespan. A hole in Themis’ head allowed the hawk that often nested on top of the statue to drop its animal carcasses below after a meal. Anderson said there was quite a large pile inside the hollow statue.
Anderson said his grandfather re-hung the original scales of justice in 1953 after there was damage. He used a ladder propped alongside the statue on top of the dome while making 42 cents an hour.
“If he had known this was hollow he probably wouldn’t have been propped against it,” he said.
The structure holding the new Themis was also reinforced to ensure longevity and to handle the additional weight, Anderson said.
As long as winds don’t exceed 20 mph on Wednesday, the crews will make the journey to downtown Waco to lift Themis to her perch in a move they hope will be the last for a long time.