Old County Hall - Table of Contents ................ Outdoor Public Art - Table of Contents
Giovanni F. Sala, sculptor
Off Main Street: Statuesque Mistake
By Stephen T. Watson
A reprint from The Buffalo News, May 14, 2008
Here's a new posible explanation for our decades-long financial difficulties: We angered Lady Commerce.
In 1974, the four 16-foot-tall, four-ton granite statues were removed from County Hall to repair their pedestals. The four female statues represented Commerce, Agriculture, Justice and Mechanical Arts.
Everything seemed fine, until David Rock, an architectural history docent with Buffalo Tours, recently figured out that Commerce and Agriculture were in the wrong locations.
His sleuthing led him to Edward Umiker, now 85 and living in the Town of Tonawanda, who was Erie County’s public works commissioner at the time. Umiker told Off Main Street that the base of the Agriculture statue cracked, requiring additional repair time. In the interim, Commerce was hoisted onto the southeast corner, facing Franklin Street, because the crane’s placement that day made it expedient. Agriculture eventually took Commerce’s place on the southwest corner, facing Delaware Avenue.
The statues are not mislabeled but Umiker still said he was "very, very upset" when he learned they were not in their traditional locations. He said the contractor, John W. Cowper Co., probably thought no one would notice - and they were almost right.
Now we wonder: If Commerce and Agriculture returned to their historic homes, can prosperity be near?
Note the repair scaffolding in the 2014 photos
Left: southeast corner facing Franklin - Commerce
Center: northeast corner facing Franklin - Justice
Right: northwest corner facing Delaware - Mechanical Arts
Center figure: Commerce .. Detail below:
Commerce, holding a caduceus ... More frequently, Hermes/Mercury is the god of commerce, again holding a caduceus ... Detail below:
Detail - Commerce, holding a tool(?)
Justice, holding a shield and a sword ... 2 details below:
Note similarities to earlier (1876 VS 1883) "emblematic lady" on the Civil War Monument in Lafayette Square: crown, sword, shield
Detail - Justice holding a sword
Detail - Justice holding a shield
Mechanical Arts, holding a wreath and a tool ... 2 details below:
Mechanical Arts, holding a wreath
Note similar laurel leaf wreath on earlier (1876 VS 1883) "emblematic lady" on the Civil War Monument in Lafayette Square
Mechanical Arts, holding a wreath and a tool
Southwest corner, facing Delaware: Agriculture, holding sheaf of wheat ... Detail below:
Agriculture, holding sheaf of wheat
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