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US (Missouri) US Travel

It’s lonely at the top: Lady Justice in Bolivar, Missouri

From a distance, she looks pretty good.  But there’s more to her story.

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I took this photo last fall of the Polk County Courthouse in downtown Bolivar, Missouri. I’ve always thought the statue of Lady justice on top appeared unusually large. In fact, she is about thirteen feet tall (six feet shorter than the Statue of Freedom that tops the U.S. Capitol) and was placed on the building when it opened in 1907, according to the Bolivar Herald Free-Press. The statue is hollow and is supported by an 8-inch by 8-inch oak beam.

From a distance, she looks pretty good.  But there’s more to her story.

In her earlier years, Lady Justice held a sword that was 5-1/2 feet long in her right hand. In her left hand were the scales of justice. Unfortunately, time and the elements have removed both.

In 2001, someone found the sword  on the courthouse lawn; strong storms and winds had pulled it down. It had likely been weakened by a crack in one seam on the handle, according to this article. There are no plans to replace either the sword or the scales, since they are difficult to attach and maintain.

There are also no plans to fix other damages—such as bullet holes— to the statue. Long ago, pigeons perched on and around the statue and some locals decided to keep the birds in check. As a result, Lady Justice is riddled with holes, including one on a big toe that’s since been repaired, and another hole right between her eyes, a commissioner said.

So there Lady Justice stands… empty-handed, full of holes, and obscured by her great height. Yes, it’s lonely at the top.


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