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Ceres descends

A statue of Ceres, the Roman goddess of agriculture, descends from the top of the Missouri Capitol to the grounds on Nov. 15, 2018. Photo by Jack Suntrup.

JEFFERSON CITY — After more than a year in a Chicago rehab facility, a nearly 100-year-old statue that has stood atop Missouri’s Capitol will make her return.

The bronze statue of Ceres, the Roman goddess of agriculture, is expected to be on public display outside the Capitol in early December before a massive crane hoists her back to her perch on top of the dome.

“She’s all beautiful and fixed up from her spa treatment in Chicago,” said Missouri Office of Administration Commissioner Sarah Steelman.

The $400,000 makeover is part of a years-long renovation of the exterior of Missouri’s Capitol building. The $50 million project, which has left the building shrouded in scaffolding and a protective wrap, is expected to be completed in early 2020.

The work is being financed by bonds approved by the Legislature in 2014.

The sculpture depicts a 10-foot, four-inch tall Ceres holding a bundle of grain in her left arm to signify the importance of agriculture to Missouri. It was crafted by Iowa artist Sherry Fry, who based the likeness on silent film actress Audrey Munson.

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The rehabilitation included repairs to areas that were struck by lightning.

In November 2018, her removal from the top of the dome was completed with the aid of a 550-ton crane. The more than 1,500 pound statue was put on display for a few hours before being whisked off to Chicago.

Her return on Dec. 6 will coincide with holiday season events in the capital city, Steelman told members of a commission that oversees the Capitol last week. The public will have a three-day window to view her before she is placed back on the building.

“It will be festive,” Steelman said.

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