A story in the August 17, 1980 Youngstown Vindicator focused on a famous statue and its lasting mystery. The bronze statue known as Diana, Goddess of the Hunt, was manufactured in Salem, Ohio, at the W. H. Mullins Company before taking its place in architectural history. Here is that story:
“Old Mullins Plant’s Statue of Diana ‘Stood’ Atop Madison Square Garden
“Salem – Missing, one 18-foot-high bronze statue of Diana, the Goddess of the hunt, who’s elegant one-ton figure stood on one foot for three years in the 1890s atop the old Madison Square Garden in New York City.
“Her birth is certain: the result of master sculptor Augustus Saint-Gaudens with assistance from the workers at Salem’s old Mullins Manufacturing Co. But her death or whereabouts remain a mystery. She was borne in the Victorian era of American architecture when ornamental cornices, molding, and other trimmers were considered the height of building fashion. The company founder and president, William H. Mullins, took advantage of the building market employing hundreds of metal experts at the local plant. The company grew initially on its building market but moved to its bread and butter, the statuary business, shortly before 1880.
“It flourished until about 1928, with statues sent across the country and into parts of Europe and other countries. It was a time when a statue was considered the only means of paying tribute to war heroes and other personages. Mullins’ skilled workers manufactured hundreds and statuary buffs today are uncovering the company trademark throughout the world.
“Diane was the first major work of the company as it was commissioned for a home atop of the Moorish tower of Stanford White’s great architectural creation in the county’s ‘Big Apple’ city. Saint-Gaudens came to the Salem to work on his creation. The temperamental man is said to have threatened to abandon the project when Diana’s big toe fell off the plaster model. Jim Andrews, a company foreman, met the crisis by reattaching the digit to the satisfaction of its creator. But the statue began receiving poor publicity even as it remained here awaiting shipment to New York – her nudity was an objection to local women’s groups.
“Once placed on the tower’s pinnacle in New York City, Diana’s slim body moved with ease indicating the wind’s direction. Her firm grip never wavered on the bowstring stretched tautly to send her arrow on its way. But some New Yorkers continued the protest move. Women’s clubs in particular demanded that the ‘shameless creature’ be taken down. Newspapers took sides in the popular argument until Saint-Gaudens finally added some draperies, which he later removed because he thought they spoiled the statue’s appearance.
“History shows that Diana was later removed because experts felt that the huge structure would fall from its meager foundation – the ball of her left foot. An identical statue, but five feet shorter and weighing about 1,500 pounds, was built by Mullins to replace the original Diana. For more than 25 years the understudy stood there. A windstorm blew away a portion of her scarf, but she remained until the Garden was torn down in 1925. ‘Diana’s Sister’ was offered to New York University but was declined because they felt they had no suitable place to display her. Salem people became interested and tried to bring her home, but to no success. She was finally given to the Philadelphia Museum of Art where she stands in splendor today at the head of a beautiful inside garden display.
“But what of the original Diana?”
In 1882, William H. Mullins purchased Kitterage, Clark and Company of Salem, which made ornamental building parts. In the 20th Century, Mullins expanded their product line to include washing machine tubs, pressed steel products, boats, and automobile and agricultural components. Mullins merged with Youngstown Pressed Steel Company of Warren, Ohio, in 1937. The new Mullins Manufacturing Company focused on stamped steel sinks and other porcelain steel products. In 1956, Mullins merged with the American Radiator & Standard Sanitary Corporation. American Standard still operates today in the former Mullins plant on South Ellsworth Avenue in Salem.
By the mid-20th century, Mullins was no longer making large statues, but their work in the field would stay well known for decades. Another of their epic statues was built for a monument in New Ulm, Minnesota, inspired by a similar memorial in Detmold, Germany. The statue of Hermann (Arminius) measures 32-feet tall and still stands atop the immense monument.
This 102-foot monument towering over New Ulm depicts Hermann the Cheruscan, the ancient hero whose army liberated Germany from Roman rule in 9 A.D. As German immigrants came to the United States, the legend of Hermann as the father of German independence and a symbol of honor and pride came with them.
Though just one of many statues, Diana always held an important position with Mullins, eventually becoming its logo and her image was incorporated into their famous Youngstown Kitchens cabinet name plates. While she remained an integral part of the company’s image, the location of the original Diana was lost to time.
Even in 2021, her location remains a mystery. Research shows that the original Diana (Diana 1) was moved to the Chicago World’s Columbiana Exposition. In 1892, Exposition officials purchased Diana 1 for $2,500 and sent her back to Mullins for refurbishing. She was placed atop the Court of Honor in the middle of the Exposition grounds. Stories reported that she was destroyed by a fire that swept through the grounds in 1894, but the Chicago Tribune reported that the statue was not damaged as she had been removed before the fire and sent to the Columbian Museum.
She had been purchased by executives from Montgomery Ward and moved into storage until their Tower Headquarters was completed in 1899. It is then that Diana 1 is lost to history. One thought is that she was refurbished into a new statue known as Progress Lighting the Way for Commerce, and placed atop the Montgomery Ward Tower on Michigan Avenue in Chicago. While possible, it is likely that an altogether new statue was made. In addition, a third installation was also inspired by Diana 1, The Spirit of Progress, placed in 1928 atop the new Montgomery Ward Administration Building on Chicago Avenue.
Diana 2 (the “understudy sister”) can be found in the Philadelphia Museum of Art. The true location of Diana 1 is still a mystery.