Last week’s relocated statuary was a popular topic, so let’s look at another favorite relocated grouping. This one, atop the 9th Street/ North/ back side of the Marion County Central Library is more complex and of a different material (bronze) than last week’s grouping, but its survival is a coup, nonetheless.
This statuary was created by Richard Bock, a Chicago sculptor who had worked closely with Frank Lloyd Wright. The meaning of the statuary represented “…the spirit of knowledge embodied in books–Science, Art, and Literature. The center male figure representing Science held high the torch of enlightenment in one hand and the palm of achievement in the other, while beside him were the owl and globe, attributes of science. At the right of the standing figure of Science was seated a female figure representing Literature, holding a book and pencil. At her feet was a bust of Longfellow. The figure of art was seated at the left of Science, holding a drawing board; and at her side was a bust of Michelangelo.”
The grouping stood atop the first library constructed solely for that purpose at the southwest corner of Ohio and Meridian Streets (facing Meridian Street) from the building’s opening in 1893 until the building was demolished in 1967. The statue was placed in the west lawn of the Central library in September, 1981 and later given to the Marion County Historical Society and stored at Crown Hill Cemetery. Due to vandalism while at the cemetery, components of the sculpture had to be reconstructed and attached: “a bust of Longfellow, a large globe, a quill pen, and a female torso, possibly that of Venus.”
The original/ historic part of the current Central library opened in 1917 and was designed by Philadelphia architect, Paul Cret on land donated by James Whitcomb Riley. If you spend much time in archives, you will occasionally find the central library, in its early years, referred to as the “Riley Library.”
Next time you are on the 9th Street side or on an upper floor, take a gander and see what you think of the grouping. We welcome your thoughts.