Publication:Sandusky Register; Date:May 7, 2010; Section:Front Page; Page Number:A1

Maid of the mist

Boy with Boot’s female companion might reign over city greenhouse


    She’s missing her right foot and right hand.

    A large fracture runs down the center of her left leg.

    Traces of white paint, which have seeped into tiny crevices, give her cast-iron body a milky sheen.

    But this “Maid of the Mist,” a statue of a young, partiallyclothed maiden, once stood side by side with the Boy with the Boot as a companion to Sandusky’s iconic figure.

    It soon may stand again.

    City commissioner Dave Waddingtonrecentlylearned the statue was in storage at the Sandusky Greenhouse, and would like to raise money to have it restored and possibly re-installed at the greenhouse.

    “Wouldn’t that be cool?” Waddington asked. “I mean, it’s a part of our history.”

    TheMaidoftheMist’sstory begins in the early 1800s, when Voltaire Scott and his father, part of a prominent Sandusky family, bought a two-story hotel on the southwest corner of Water and Wayne streets, where Citizens Bank is today.

    The hotel, built about 1817, was Sandusky’s first, according to “From theWidow’sWalk:AViewofSandusky,” a book by Helen Hansen and Virginia Steinemann.

    Scott established a small park across the street from his hotel, and in 1895, placed a statue of the Boy with the Boot on a tall pedestal at the center of a fountain. The statue, from Baden, Germany, was cast by J.W. Fiske Ironworks in New York City.

    According to the book, Scott surrounded the Boy with the Boot with four other statues: Two Maids of the Mist and two water-spouting dolphins.

    Goldfish swam in the pond, and in the evenings, colored lights strung overhead and beneath the water illuminated Scott Park, the fountain and the beautiful plants that surrounded it.

    Scott willed the contents of his park to the city, along with funds to maintain it.

    But in the 1920s, a tornado severely damaged the park. During that decade, the city also decided to remove the Maids of the Mist from public view because of complaints about indecency.

    According to a 1959 Register article, “guardians of public virtue” found the statues, which are mostly unclothed, to be “corruption for the youth of Sandusky.”

    So when the city re-installed the Boy with the Boot at Washington Park in 1935, the maidens didn’t join him.

    Neither Waddington nor the workers at the greenhouse know where the second maiden is, or whether she still exists.

    Tom Speir, the Greenhouse foreman, said although the Maid of the Mist is partially unclothed, he doesn’t think her reappearance will outrage people like it did in her earlier years.

    “This is the 2010s, not the 1950s,” he said.

    Speir and Nanette Guss, a greenhouse volunteer, said they’d like to reerect the statue without refurbishing it or replacing the missing parts.

    Guss said the Cleveland Museum of Art didn’t refurbish Auguste Rodin’s famed sculpture “The Thinker,” even after a 1970 bomb destroyed its legs.

    “They decided that was part of its history,” Guss said. “This is part of our statue’s history.”

    Although the city removed the statuesinthe1920s,thecitydidre-erect one of them at some point.

    The Sandusky Greenhouse has a photo of the sunken garden outside Erie County Common Pleas Court, which Speir estimated was taken in the 1960s.

    In the photo, the Maid of the Mist stands fully intact, surrounded by the colorful garden.

    Greenhouse volunteers don’t know when that statue was taken down, they but hope residents can help them recover its history and possibly track down the other Maid of the Mist statue.

    “It might take Hawaii Five-O to crack this one,” Waddington joked.

Register photo/JASON WERLING ABOVE: The face of the Maid of the Mist statue that has been stored at the Sandusky City Greenhouse.

Provided photo LEFT: The Maid of the Mist statue in Washington Park in a photo thought to have been taken in the 1960s.

FROM THE WIDOW’S WALK The Boy with the Boot accompanied by two Maids of the Mist near Sandusky’s shoreline in the late 19th or early 20th century. Note the warehouses, freight trains and cargo cranes which lined the waterfront then.