Saturday, February 4, 2012

The Fall of '"Venus Rising from the Sea"

In response to Gossips' inquiry about the statue of Venus that once stood atop the fountain in Seventh Street Park, City Historian Pat Fenoff provided copies of Register-Star articles from the 1970s--the decade during which Venus suffered the greatest indignities. Using this material, Gossips presents a photographic chronology of the fate of Venus.

In March 1975, DPW workers removed earth from around the statue of Venus in preparation for creating "Inspiration Fountain." It appears that at this point the original fountain had already been eliminated, and Venus was standing at ground level in the middle of what seems to have been a flower bed. (Something similar was done with St. Winifred on Promenade Hill, which was also originally a fountain.) Venus would soon be moved to the northwest corner of the park, near the intersection of Seventh and Columbia streets.  

In July 1978, two vandals went on a rampage in the wee hours of a Sunday morning. They knocked down barricades, ripped out parking meters, and overturned trash barrels in the 500 block of Warren Street, and they bashed the statue of Venus to pieces. Samuel T. Wheeler, then Police Commissioner, called the action "despicable."


The statue was repaired by Robert Allen of Philmont for $800. In the repair process, Allen removed layers of paint from the statue to reveal many of the statue's intricate details and reinforced the statue with cement.  

The vandals responsible for the damage--Harry Allen, Jr., and Donald L. Miller--were sentenced to weekend jail terms--three weekends for Allen, five for Miller--and were each required to pay half the cost of repairing the statue. 


In November 1978, the repaired Venus was returned to its place in Seventh Street Park, only to be hit by a car eleven months later.


In October 1979, James E. Moore, Jr., nicknamed "Jigger," who was drunk and reportedly "upset over family trouble," crashed into the statue with his car and then proceeded to drive his car into the store at the corner of Park Place and Warren streets--then Bollinger's Paint Store, now Photographics Solutions. Moore's estranged wife and his children lived in an apartment over the store.


This time, the statue was more severely damaged. Robert Allen was once again engaged to do the repairs. To prevent future damage, he reinforced the statue, "filling all internal cavities with cement, plaster and epoxy and welding in heavy reinforcing rods."

The statue was again returned to the park, where it remained until 1998, when it was removed and put into storage. 

3 comments:

  1. St. Winifred was also a fountain ... NOW I understand why she always seems so unhappy!

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  2. Really good reporting, Carole. Quite a Venusian story - look forward to her seeing the light of day again.

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