Ceres returns to Vermont Statehouse dome
It was a festive day at the Statehouse Friday as the goddess of agriculture reclaimed her spot atop the golden dome.
More than 1,000 people gathered at the Statehouse. Hundreds lined up to have their picture taken with the statue called Agriculture, often referred to as Ceres.
"Oh, my God. Just absolutely beautiful. They did a fabulous job," Rhonda Coulliard said.
Coulliard missed her chance to see the statue while it was being carved in Barre but she made sure to be on hand to see it rise.
"I wanted to see this lady up close and personal," Coulliard said. "I figured, once she's on top of the dome I'll never get to experience that again."
So many people showed up to have their picture taken that the schedule was delayed by an hour to accommodate them.
"This is spectacular and I'm so happy that I was here," Joan Hart said.
Buildings and General Services Commissioner Chris Cole oversaw the project to replace the statue, a burdensome administrative task.
"But then there's the actual carving work, which took a lot-- OK, ladies, you're next-- and then there's this great day where we get to invite the state of Vermont to come have their picture taken with what is our most historical icon," Cole said.
Plenty of state officials were on hand to see Ceres rise, including Gov. Phil Scott.
"It's an incredible piece of history and to see it being constructed and carved right before your eyes over the last few months is pretty special," said Scott, R-Vermont.
Scott says the artists-- Jerry Williams and Chris Miller-- made Vermont proud.
"It's beautiful," the governor said. "It's everything that I thought it would be and more."
Scott says he's glad Vermont artists were selected to create the third iteration of the statue.
"I was so pleased that we were able to utilize some of the artisans from this area and show just exactly how gifted they are," he said.
The previous statue stood for 85 years. State officials hope this one will last at least 100.
This is the third goddess of agriculture to sit atop the golden dome. The first Ceres was installed in 1858 and lasted 80 years before it needed to be replaced in 1938.
Now, another 80 years later, Ceres 3.0 has been hoisted into place. But how has she evolved over time?
"She is rotting basically from the inside," said state architect Tricia Harper, describing the old statue of Ceres back in 2013.
Restoration wasn't enough to preserve the statue carved from pine that went up in 1938. Ceres was taken down in April as a part of a $2 million restoration project to the golden dome and the statue on top. This time she was carved from mahogany.
"We're hoping for better with the third statue and we're carving out of wood that stands a chance of holding up over time," said Vermont State Curator David Schutz back in April.
Two Vermont artists were chosen to create the new statue. Jerry Williams built the 42-inch model to start the project.
"It's sort of like a legacy, I guess you could say," he said.
Williams then passed the project to Chris Miller, who carved the 14-foot statue.
"This is so meaningful to the state of Vermont. Such an important agricultural symbol for the state. And everybody's watching, so it's not like there's a ton of pressure, but there are 600,000 people waiting for this project to be done and up there," Miller said.
Now the wait is over. Ceres again stands on top of the golden dome and is expected to witness Vermont history for at least 100 years.