Statue’s foot rescued from Iowa courthouse roof

Ottumwa, Iowa (AP) August 2012

Restoration work can begin now that a missing piece of a damaged statue honoring Fox Indian Chief Wapello has been recovered from atop the Wapello County Courthouse, several weeks after a storm toppled the 11-foot-tall statue.

Firefighters went to top of the five-story courthouse to recover the metal statue’s booted foot, which was apparently the only piece that had held the statue in place for more than a century, The Ottumwa Courier reported (

The statue landed on the courthouse’s roof after it was knocked over in June by 75 mph winds that swept through the county, which is named after the American Indian chief. It was removed a few days later and has been in storage since then.

The statue had been in the place of honor since the courthouse was completed in 1894. Officials believe it was purchased from an architectural catalog in the late 1800s.

And it had withstood plenty of high winds in the past. County Supervisor Jerry Parker said his research indicates the statue was taken down at least once for a refurbishment in the 1950s, meaning the statue stood for more than 50 years.

“So most of the people alive right now have not had a chance to see the statue up close,” Parker said.

Parker said supervisors hope to get a contractor’s report soon with a cost estimate and timetable for the work.

In the meantime, the statue will tour the area for parades and celebrations, and make a trip to the Chief Wapello historic grave site near Agency.

Once the statue is repaired, supervisors may put it inside the courthouse for a time, especially if it’s winter.