Bids due today for re-locating statue onto courthouse lawn

By: 
Buck Collier
Special correspondent to The Republican

HERMANN — Who will move Gasconade County’s biggest benefactor — or, at least, his metallic likeness — to his final resting place on the courthouse lawn remains to be seen.

As of Monday morning, there was no one willing to take on the task of moving the large statue of Charles Eitzen out of the courthouse, according to County Clerk Lesa Lietzow. The County Commission is scheduled Thursday morning to open bids from those interested in moving the statute to its outdoor site.

Eitzen was the businessman who in the late 1800s donated the land and money for the courthouse, one of only two county courthouses in the country believed to be constructed with private money. The other is thought by county officials to be in Minnesota.

The plan is to move the statue, from where it stands vigil at the foot of one of the staircases to the second floor, to a concrete pad near the steps leading to the main entrance to the courthouse. The statue will be lighted.

According to the county clerk, when the bids first were called for, they attracted an interesting inquiry from a potential contractor in southwest Missouri. As explained by Lietzow, the contractor had several questions about the project — including whether the statue was being moved out of the courthouse because it was in any way associated with the Confederacy. According to Lietzow, that contractor felt that if it was being moved for that reason, he would not be interested in the job.

The county clerk told the commissioners that she assured the contractor the statue was in no way associated with the Confederacy, explaining Eitzen’s role in providing the site for the courthouse that overlooks the Missouri River.

The imposing statue previously welcomed visitors to the courthouse from a position in the middle of the first floor. It was moved to alongside the staircase to help ease congestion near the main entryway, especially on days when courts are in session both on the first floor and second floor.

If no bids arrived Tuesday or today (Wednesday), it’s likely that the statue will have to continue its silent vigil under roof a while longer.

The County Commission meets Thursday morning at 8:30. The statue-bid topic is part of what could be a busy agenda for the three-member panel, which did not meet last week because of the statewide County Clerks Association Conference in Columbia.