Little Sisters of Liberty
In 1949, a Kansas City Businessman and Boy Scout leader, Jack Whitaker, launched a far reaching project to bring models of the Statue of Liberty to communities all over the country. Citing a need for Americans to be reminded that freedom, like life itself, is preserved only through vigilance and care, Whitaker and the Boy Scouts launched the crusade to “Strengthen The Arm of Liberty”
In all, over 200 replicas of this symbol of American Freedom and Opportunity were manufactured by Friedley-Voshardt Co, Chicago, Illinois and placed in the early 1950’s in 39 states, Guam, Puerto Rico, the Philippines and the Canal Zone.
Butler Grade School
Butler, Bates County, Missouri
The statues were purchased through the Kansas City Boy Scout office and cost $350.00 plus freight. Each community was responsible for providing the base. The statues were approximately 8 ½ feet tall, without the base, were constructed of sheet copper over a wood frame and weigh 290 pounds.
Unfortunately not all remain, fifty years of weather, vandalism, sold for scrap or stuck in storage have taken their toll such that barely half these “Little Sisters of Liberty” still survive.
But now a national treasure hunt is under way to find and save the little landmarks. They are being documented by SOS – Save Ourdoor Sculpture, a joint project of Heritage Preservation and the Smithsonian American Art Museum. In Missouri, 25 statues were originally placed and 20 have been documented as remaining.
This Statue, located at the Butler Grade School, Ohio & Pine Streets, was placed by the local Boy Scout troop. The base is hand cut Carthage “Marble” limestone and was constructed by E.J. Kling of Butler Monument Company. The star shaped flower garden border is outlined by Carthage “Marble” limestone and the garden is maintained by the Ladies of Wednesday Coterie. The statue remains in overall good condition with the exception of the missing rays extending from her head. Shortly after the statue was dedicated, a group of local boys impaled a cat on top of the statue. The school principal ordered the rays removed so no more horrible desecrations could occur.
The mass-produced statues are not great art nor meticulously accurate (a conservator notes that "her face isn't as mature as the real Liberty. It's rounder and more like a little girl's"), but they are cherished, “These statues reflect a piece of American history and have real value for the community’s history,” says Susan Nichols, director of SOS! “A lot of local history is lost or forgotten when these sculptures are gone.”