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photo of the statue of Goddess of Liberty
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GODDESS OF LIBERTY

Probably inspired by the statue of Freedom placed on the dome of the National Capitol in 1863, Texas State Capitol Architect E. E. Myers of Detroit designed the Goddess of Liberty statue as the crowning element of the Texas Capitol. John C. McFarland of Chicago, the subcontractor of the galvanized iron and zinc work on the Texas Capitol, probably furnished the Goddess of Liberty statue as a part of that same contract. Catalogs from the firm from the 1890s show a line drawing of a Goddess ornament very much like the Goddess of Liberty, but with softer features; the illustration is captioned “Furnished for the Texas State Capitol Building.” Two of McFarland’s foremen, Albert Friedley and Herman F. Voshardt, seem to have guided the actual fabrication of the statue utilizing plaster molds supplied by an unidentified sculptor. The molds arrived in mid-January of 1888 by railroad, possibly from Chicago, and Friedley and Voshardt reputedly set up a foundry in the southeast basement corner of the unfinished Capitol. During late January and early February 1888, the two men oversaw the casting of the zinc statue in 80 separate pieces that were welded together to form four major sections: the torso, the two arms, and the head.

The Goddess probably received three coats of white paint and sand to simulate stone, but the original lone star she held supposedly was gilded afterward. Workmen hoisted the four sections to the top of the Capitol dome and assembled the statue with large iron screws during the last week in February of 1888. Standing nearly 16 feet tall and weighing approximately 2,000 pounds, the statue probably represents Pallas Athena, the Greek goddess of wisdom, justice, and arts and crafts. Athena, later called “Minerva” in Roman mythology, served as the protectress of the democratic city-state of Athens in ancient times.

The original goddess is in the Bullock Texas State History Museum; the one on top of the Capitol is a replica.