In the early 1900’s, local cowboys and wranglers often spent Friday and Saturday evenings at the local saloons in what is now called “Old Town” Scottsdale. After a hard night of drinking they would often entertain themselves with a ride to Phoenix to visit our state’s Capitol building. Their agenda, to see if they could give “Tess a twirl” and bet on how many times they could spin her around. We’re not talking about dancing here, but loading up their six-guns and shooting at the white statue that adorns the copper dome on the Arizona Capitol building.
Originally cast in Ohio and purchased for $150.00 by the Arizona Territory in 1898, this beautiful statue is fashioned after the Greek Goddess, “Nike”, winged Goddess of Victory. She has several names: “Winged Victory,” “Statue of Justice” and “Goddess of Victory.”
Standing 17 feet tall and made from zinc, Winged Victory graces the top of the exquisite copper dome of our Capitol building. Serving as a symbol of justice and as a weathervane, she has stood watch over Phoenix for more than a century.
Unfortunately, she has not received the respect that she deserves over her many years of service. She has been restored several times over the years and often during these restorations, workers have found bullet indentations on her wings.
During a 1957 restoration the statue was tethered in a stationary position so that she could no longer spin and serve as a weathervane. This was done after many complaints from legislators that you could only see her back. Winged Victory has since been restored back to a functioning weathervane.
After an extensive restoration in 1976 that involved patching, welding painting and fiberglassing, she is now 200 pounds heavier than her original weight, now weighing in at 600 pounds.
The next time you visit Phoenix and find yourself in the downtown area, you might want to stop in and visit Winged Victory and the Capitol Building. Take a shot at her with your camera!
The Arizona Capitol building is located in Phoenix at: 1700 W. Washington St., Phoenix, AZ 85007.
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