City Quotient: These Are My Jewels Statue, Columbus Landmarks Endangered List
A Statehouse statue celebrates seven Civil War leaders from the Buckeye State.
I have heard of a statue on the Statehouse grounds called “The Jewels.” Where is it, and what does it represent?
This is a sculptural group called These Are My Jewels. It stands off the northwest corner of the Statehouse and features a female figure gazing down at full-length sculptures of seven men.
The memorial was created by Cleveland architect and sculptor Levi Scofield, who also designed the impressive Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Monument on Cleveland’s Public Square. In the late 19th century, as many Civil War politicians and veterans were dying, there were various movements to recognize those who supported the Union cause. In this case, Ohio wanted to honor Union generals Ulysses S. Grant, William Tecumseh Sherman, James Garfield and Philip Sheridan, along with two of Abraham Lincoln’s cabinet members: Salmon P. Chase and Edwin Stanton. All were major figures in the ultimate Union victory. Rutherford B. Hayes, also a war veteran, was later added as the design developed.
All seven were Ohio natives, and Grant, Garfield and Hayes went on to win the U.S. presidency. As for the title, it was drawn from a tale of ancient Rome, when a group of women were discussing their jewelry and other possessions. One of them, Cornelia, brought out her two warrior sons and said, “These are my jewels.” So the female figure on the monument is the state of Ohio proudly presenting her jewels. It was displayed at the World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago in 1893 and installed at the Statehouse in 1894.
That was a long time ago. Perhaps it’s time for another monument on Capitol Square, one celebrating our state’s female jewels.
I’ve heard that the Landmarks Foundation keeps a list of endangered buildings. Is this true, and what buildings are on it?
It is true. The Columbus Landmarks Foundation’s Most Endangered Sites List started in 2014, and nearly 60 Columbus properties have appeared on it. The list calls attention to places important in history and architecture, spurs interest in preservation, encourages creative thinking and tries to find new owners to reuse the properties. And it seems to be having an impact. Several once-listed buildings are now in the hands of sympathetic owners or in the planning stage of rehabilitation, including the original Port Columbus Airport terminal on East Fifth Avenue, the modernistic Franklin Park Medical Center on East Broad Street, the Municipal Electric Light Plant on West Nationwide Boulevard, the Kroger Bakery (a former Ford Motor Co. plant) on Cleveland Avenue, the trolley barns on Oak Street, and the Greater Columbus Antique Mall on South High Street. There have been losses, too, such as Buckeye Steel Castings on Parsons Avenue, important in part because it long was headed by Samuel Prescott Bush, grandfather and great-grandfather of two U.S. presidents. Admittedly, it would have been difficult to save a steel mill, but other cities have done it.
What does CLF consider the most important currently endangered site? The 1935 south dormitory at Columbus Public Health, proposed for demolition for a parking lot. Stay tuned for more, because CLF will come out with its latest list on May 12.
Jeff Darbee is a preservationist, historian and author in Columbus. Send your questions to firstname.lastname@example.org, and the answer might appear in a future column.
Sources: ohiostatehouse.org; Becky West, executive director, Columbus Landmarks Foundation
This story is from the May 2022 issue of Columbus Monthly.