The case of ‘broken justice’

Walter Sprague, Arts and Culture Reporter

Photo by Walter Sprague/NLJ

Lady Justice stands on top of the portico of the Weston County Courthouse after suffering damage from Thursday’s high winds. With gusts up to 80 mph, her arm that held the scales of justice was broken and swept away. The arm was found in front of the steps on the sidewalk, where one of the scale plates broke loose and was severely damaged.

Located on the prominent corner of West Main Street and South Summit Avenue, the Weston County Courthouse has stood since 1911, the year that construction was completed. In October of the same year, President William Howard Taft even visited the Beaux-Arts style elaborate building and gave an address on the courthouse steps.

But on Thursday, high winds with gusts up to 80 mph tore one of the arms off of Lady Justice, whose rightful place has been atop the historic building for 111 years. 

County Clerk Becky Hadlock said that, along with the scales of justice, the statue’s metal arm was found on the sidewalk in front of the courthouse steps. One of the scales had broken loose from the hand.

This is not the first time that Lady Justice has been injured. The statue was vandalized on the evening of Aug. 9, 1979. Scaffolding, which had been left up during a roofing project, was used to climb up to the figure. On Aug. 19, 1979, a front-page picture and description in the News Letter Journal stated that there was “a $500 reward for information leading to the arrest and prosecution of the person or persons responsible for damage to the statue of justice.” The paper later stated that the statue was broken loose from the base and turned around, and one balance plate of the scales was broken loose. It was found on the ground near the building.”

On Friday, County Commission Chairwoman Marty Ertman said she didn’t know what action the county will take to repair the damage.

“We’re looking for someone who knows how to fix something like that, but at this time we don’t know where to start,” she said.

“We also have to figure out how to pay for it,” Ertman continued, “Whether by insurance or if we should get a grant of some kind.”

The county will be looking into options in the coming weeks, she said, as the commissioners address how to proceed with repairs.

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