This statue sits on the Van Wert County Courthouse. (DHI Media/Jim Langham)
This statue sits on the Van Wert County Courthouse. (DHI Media/Jim Langham)

VAN WERT – Many people pass the Van Wert County Courthouse every day and don’t notice the famous statue of the Goddess Justice sitting stately above the entrance.

Sources indicate that Lady Justice originates from the personification of Justice in Ancient Rome art known as Iustitia and Justitia and it has been associated with honesty and clarity of pure justice administered.

The origin of Lady Justice was Iustitia, the goddess of Justice with Roman mythology. The goddess was originally introduce by the emperor Augustine and was one of the virtues celebrated by emperor Augustus as a Temple of Justice with which every emperor wished to associate his regime.

The statue, which stands eight-feet tall, was sent to Van Wert after it had been exhibited in the Philadelphia Centennial Celebration in 1876. At the time, it was in competition with other cast zinc statuary was awarded first place. As a result, the manufacturers received a large contract of similar work for the Centennial buildings.

It is recorded that emperor Vespasian minted coins with the image of the goddess seated on a throne called Iustitia Augusta, and many of the emperors after him used the image of the goddess to proclaim themselves as protectors of justice.

Though formally called a goddess with her own temple and cult shrine in Rome, it appears that she was from the more as an artistic symbolic personification rather than as an actual deity with religious onset viewed significance.

Lady Justice is most often depicted with a set of scales typically suspended from one hand, upon which she measures the strengths of a case's support and opposition. Different depictions show different hands holding the scales. The depiction dates back to ancient Egypt, where the god Anubis was frequently depicted with a set of scales on which he weighed a deceased's heart against the Feather of Truth.[4]Most statues have the scales free-hanging, rather than carved as part of the statue, showing that evidence may strengthen or weaken over the course of a trial.

The Van Wert County Courthouse was erected in 1874-76. The firm of Tolan and Son designed the structure; the very same firm designed a number of courthouses around the Midwest, many of which are in Indiana.

Construction of the courthouse began when the construction bid was awarded to Elijah Wilson for $78,000.