The statue atop the Capitol’s grand copper dome was a century-long mystery. No one knew who commissioned her or where she came from. She arrived at the Helena depot on the heels of a scandal that led to the disbanding of the first Capitol Site Commission. Charged with contracting for the Capitol’s construction, the Commission had planned to inflate prices and divert funds into their own pockets. After being summoned to appear before a grand jury, one commissioner committed suicide and others burned the records. The mysterious statue, dubbed “Liberty,” served the second Capitol Site Commission well, and was installed in 1901. In 2006, Alice Nagle of Hatfield, Pennsylvania, contacted the Montana Historical Society inquiring about her grandfather’s copper-clad statue. She had discovered clippings and a photograph of the work in progress. Her grandfather, Edward J. Van Landeghem, a Belgian artist who trained at the Academy of Fine Arts School in Brussels, had created the statue in his Philadelphia studio. He named her “Montana.” In her long-flowing gown, “Montana” holds a torch to light the way and a shield to protect the people.
The Montana National Register Sign Program
structure | contributing
Montana State Capitol Campus Historic District
1301 East Sixth Avenue, Helena, Montana
Lewis and Clark county