LADY JUSTICE'S TRIUMPHANT RETURN
The original Bexar County Courthouse Fountain was purchased from the J.L. Mott Company of New York in 1896, and placed in the Courthouse's east courtyard. It was moved thirty one years later during the 1927 construction of a east side Courthouse addition, which enclosed the fountain courtyard. Bexar County gave the fountain to the city of San Antonio who wished to display it to the public, and placed it at the San Antonio Water System pump station park on Market Street. The community enjoyed the bubbling fountain there for seventy years, until vandals toppled and destroyed much of it. The City placed her in a storage facility where she languished from 1997 until 2003, when Hidalgo Foundation's President Tracy Wolff began the search for artifacts missing from the courthouse, the fountain included.
Once discovered, the fountain was returned to the Hidalgo Foundation to begin the extensive restoration process needed. Utilizing an Artist's rendering of the fountain by original courthouse architect James Riely Gordon circa 1896, the Hidalgo Foundation commissioned local artist Gilbert Barrera to recreate the sculpture and restore the fountain in 2003. The Herrmann Family, through the Hidalgo Foundation, graciously donated $85,000 to restore the older parts of the fountain and create the beautiful new sculpture. The new fountain's upgrades include utilizing treated condensation from the Courthouse and the CadenaReeves Justice Center air conditioning systems as her water source.
Tracy Wolff decided "Lady Justice" should be the fountain's new sculpture, as the restored fountain is being dedicated to the Bexar County legal community. The figure of Lady Justice stems from the Greek mythological figure Themis, the Titan goddess of divine law and order; or Justitia, the Roman goddess of justice. Gilbert Barrera’s Lady Justice is a GrecoRoman version of the Knidos Aphrodite, one of the earliest manifestations of the goddess. Depending on the version of the story, Aphrodite is Themis’ sister or halfsister. Barrera used the classical devices typical of the Roman goddess Justitia: the scales of justice that carefully weigh each side; a blindfold representing her impartiality, and a common soldier’s sword for the enforcement of justice. Two added creative elements are the earth, representing Gaia, or mother earth from which all entities are born; and the sky, represented by the ribbon above her head. In mythology the sky is symbolic of Uranus or Ouranos, god of the heavens and father of the Titan gods and goddesses, including Themis.
The dazzling Lady Justice Fountain was ceremoniously unveiled in December of 2008 to a crowd of over 500 people, including Texas Supreme Court Justice Wallace Jefferson, Bexar County Judge Nelson Wolff, and Lady Justice Sculptor Gilbert Barrera. Once again, Justice shines brightly at the Bexar County Courthouse.