Salvaged Goddesses


Many rural garden cemeteries not only have gravestones, monuments, and tombs that are works of art, but also have sculptures that are freestanding and not commemorating someone deceased. Crown Hill Cemetery at Indianapolis, the largest cemetery in the state of Indiana, is no exception.

In 1962, the Marion County Courthouse in Indianapolis was razed. Some of the bits were salvaged and sold off, including 12 statues that adorned the magnificent Victorian building which was erected in 1873.  According to Memories of the Past: A Tour of Historic Crown Hill Cemetery, Recalling Nearly 200 Years of Indianapolis and Marion County History written by Wayne L. Sanford published by Crown Hill Cemetery in 1996, eight of the remaining statues were removed from the building and relocated to Holiday Park, on North Spring Hill Road—one of the statues is in a private collection. That leaves three of the statues that were purchased by the cemetery board to be relocated to the Crown Hill Cemetery at a cost of $250 per statue.


The three statues purchased by Crown Hill are of Greek goddesses. The first statue is of Themis, the daughter of Uranus and Gaia. Themis was a consort of Zeus—she was a goddess of consequence and made her home at Olympus. Themis, meaning divine law, was the goddess of law and order and is often shown with a tripod or the scales of justice.
The second salvaged Greek goddess, to be found in the Crown Hill Cemetery is Demeter, the daughter of Cronus and Rhea. Demeter is often shown with a sheaf of wheat, bread, a cornucopia, or a torch. Demeter is the goddess of the harvest and of fertility. She can be found in section 46-B where she was placed in 1963.

There is a bit of mystery about the third goddess saved from atop the demolished Marion county courthouse building. According to Memories of the Past: A Tour of Historic Crown Hill Cemetery the statue that stands close to the underpass is either Persephone or Hebe. Persephone was the daughter of Zeus and Demeter. The symbols that she is most often portrayed with are seeds of grain, the torch, flowers, deer, or the pomegranate. Persephone was the consort of Hades of the underworld. She carried out curses upon men and upon the souls of the dead. She was a formidable underworld character!

Hebe, on the other hand, was the cupbearer to the gods and the goddess of eternal youth.   She was also the daughter of Zeus but her mother was Hera. Along with a wine cup, she is also often portrayed with or as an eagle, ivy, the fountain of youth, and wings. Hebe served wine, nectar, and ambrosia to the gods. This statue is shown with a vessel, which would indicate this statue as being Hebe—but you decide.

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One Response to Salvaged Goddesses

  1. MARY KIM SCHRECK says:

    I can’t believe these statues sold for $250 each…I just wonder what other beautiful jewels were available before they razed that building… this was a very interesting post–thank you Douglas for your continued effort to bring us such wonderful pieces of history!

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