Mercer County historical statue

The statue of Mitchell and Phoebe Clay at the Mercer County Courthouse will soon find a new home at the Clay Cemetery in Lashmeet.

PRINCETON — Plans have been made to move a statue honoring an early Mercer County family from its pedestal at the Mercer County Courthouse to a cemetery named for that family.

The Clay Family statue known as Agony in Stone is scheduled to be moved the morning of Sept. 21, Lois Miller, president of the Mercer County Historical Society, said Wednesday. She received a permit Tuesday from the state Department of Highways for the move.

“It’s on its way to a new home, and it wasn’t an easy process,” Miller said. “It’s going to the Clay Cemetery. I think that’s the best place for it. They’ve got those nice Clay monuments down there.”

A location called Clay Circle near Lashmeet and a spot at the Memorial Building in Princeton were considered, but they were too small, Miller said.

“I just look forward to it being preserved,” she stated. “The Clay family is the first family of Mercer County.”

Work has started on building a new pedestal for the statue. The one that the statue now stands on is in poor condition and has “several big cracks in it,” Miller stated. Getting the statue off its current position could take about two hours.

“It’s just sitting on a little bed of cement and they’ve got to chisel that off. It’s about 2 inches thick,” she added.

A professional mover paid by a private donor will be moving the statue, Miller said. The statue weighs approximately 7 tons.

Relocating the Clay Family statue became necessary when the Mercer County Commission started renovations at the courthouse’s front entrance. A ramp, modified steps and handrails are being added to make the entrance Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) compliant. The ADA requires a public building’s front entrance to be handicap accessible. Modifying the courthouse’s side entrances would not meet ADA requirements.

— Contact Greg Jordan at gjordan@bdtonline.com

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