Another statue original to the McLennan County Courthouse has been taken down and shipped to Alabama.
A 150-pound eagle statue that roosted above the main entrance since 1901 was removed last weekend and is being fully restored in the same metal shop that is duplicating the Themis statue pulled from the top of the courthouse dome in July.
The restored eagle, the Themis remake and the repaired Themis original are expected to return before Christmas on the same truck.
Crews inspecting the courthouse roof as they prepared to remove the 18-foot Themis statue this summer noticed the eagle’s left wing was about to fall off, Montgomery Construction general manager Mike Anderson said. The team reported the damage to county commissioners, who approved $28,901 to remove, repair and replace the original eagle. Anderson said it is unclear how the damage happened.
A Montgomery Construction and Citadel Metal Supply crew used a 125-foot lift to take the eagle down. The statue was sent for repairs to Robinson Iron Co. in Alexander City, Alabama, the same company building the new Themis statue.
Anderson said the eagle, like the original Themis, is hollow and made of zinc not much thicker than a soda can. The eagle will get a full restoration and a new coating to ensure it lasts 30 to 40 years.
When the three statues return to Waco, the new duplicate Themis will be first lifted back to its 150-foot high perch on the courthouse roof, Anderson said. Montgomery Construction has offered to donate a display case to the county to house the original 5,900-pound zinc Themis statue, which is being refinished and having its arm reattached. County commissioners have not decided where or how they will display the original Greek goddess of divine law.
Themis’ arm and scales of justice were ripped off in 2014 by 65-mph wind gusts. Her left arm was found on the courthouse lawn, and the scales of justice bolted to her left hand were found in a magnolia tree nearby.
The new Themis is being constructed of cast aluminium, making it far stronger and far heavier than the original, about 8,500 pounds, Anderson said. Commissioners awarded Montgomery Construction a $428,388 contract for the Themis replacement, about $62,000 more than the county initially expected to spend.
Anderson said the company will not be able to lock down an installation date until work is further along. Once the statues arrive in Waco, crews will have another week of work to do before installation can start, he said.
The increased weight of the new statue will pose no problem for the crane that will lift her high above the courthouse, he said.
“We just have to be more careful,” Anderson said.