“Little Liberty” is moving to the Midwest. The 34-foot replica of the Statue of Liberty originally stood atop the Liberty Warehouse on 43 West 65th Street for more than a century. Since 2006, the statue had a home at the Brooklyn Museum’s Steinberg Family Sculpture Garden, where you can also find pieces of the original Penn Station. Now, the statue is on its way to St. Louis, Missouri where it will take centerstage at the National Building Arts Center (NBAC), a study center housing the nation’s largest and most diversified collection of building artifacts and a research library offering broad holdings in architecture and allied arts.
The mini-version of Lady Liberty was commissioned in 1900 by Russian immigrant William H. Flattau. According to the New York Times, like the real Lady Liberty, the little one had a spiral staircase inside and glass windows in the crown so people could climb to the top and look out over Broadway. Evergreene Architectural Arts, which conducted a restoration of the statue in 2005, believes the galvanized steel and zinc statue was crafted by the W. H. Mullins firm in Salem, Ohio.
In 2002, when the warehouse was converted into apartments, the statue was given to the Brooklyn Museum. For the next nearly twenty years, it stood behind the museum in the sculpture garden. A representative for the museum told Untapped New York that they are pleased the statue “will receive the care it needs for repair and restoration by the experts at the NBAC, who specialize in architectural fragments and building artifacts.”
“This is an exciting stage of a process that has been years in the making, due to the pandemic,” said the museum’s representative, “We’re also happy that ‘Lady Liberty’ will be on view for whole new audiences in St. Louis, offering a powerful symbol of freedom and liberty for new generations to appreciate.”
“The Brooklyn Museum and National Building Arts Center have partnered on several transfers of architectural artifacts from New York City,” said Michael Allen, Executive Director of the National Building Arts Center. Those transfers have allowed the collections “to expand beyond regional holdings into something truly national.” “Little Liberty is the largest and most exciting of these transfers, and one that will give our museum an iconic entrance piece,” Allen says.
NBAC hired HWP Rigging of St. Louis to hoist and move the statue. On Monday, the statue was loaded onto a flatbed truck and sent off on its 1,000-mile journey to St. Louis. The statue is expected to arrive on Thursday. After arrival, the NBAC will restore and repaint the statue and finish work on the base.
Anyone in the St. Louis region who is interested in learning more about Little Liberty and the historic meanings of the Statue of Liberty and other monuments can attend a panel discussion, Statues and Liberties: What Stories Monuments Tell Us, with Geoff Ward, Stephanie Weissberg, and Michael Allen on July 12th at the National Building Arts Center.
Little Liberty is set to make her Midwest debut on Labor Day. The statue will be placed outdoors atop a tall base right where visitors enter the National Building Arts Center in Sauget, Illinois. The statue will face another structural symbol of America, the Gateway Arch designed by Eero Saarinen, which sits just across the Mississippi River. See more photos of the statue’s removal from the Brooklyn Museum in the gallery above.
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