STATUE OF MERCURY
The statue of Mercury stands on top of the Aqueduct Building. Mercury is made out of riveted copper plates, and he stands 21 feet tall and weighs 700 pounds. He was created in 1881 by J. Guernsey Mitchell for his brother-in-law’s building. His brother-in-law was William S. Kimball. Mr. Kimball owned a tobacco factory. He wanted a replica of Mercury, the symbol of commerce to stand on top of a smokestack at the factory.
Mercury was to stand on that smokestack for 70 years. The tobacco company itself went out of business in 1905.
Cluett Peabody and Company, a company that made shirts and collars, then took over the building. The building was bought by George Eastman and he leased it to the City of Rochester to be used as the City Hall Annex. It was also used as a branch of the Rochester Public Library.
The original building was torn down in 1951, and the Rochester War Memorial (now the Blue Cross Arena) was built on the site. When the building was torn down, Mercury went into storage for 22 years. I can remember reading news stories back in the 70’s and seeing photos of him lying on his side in a warehouse in Charlotte, waiting to be used again someday.
In 1973 Mercury was brought back to the Rochester skyline and was placed on top of the Lawyers Cooperative Building (now West Thomson Company).
He is a favored roost for the peregrine falcons in downtown Rochester. Their nesting box is on top of the Times Square building, and the falcons like to fly to the statue (easily one of the highest spot in the area). Here is a birdwatcher’s blog with a post showing one of the falcons on Mercury’s upraised hand – http://www.wqed.org/birdblog/2010/01/13/on-mercurys-fist/