Fondly known as Baby Hercules, the recently restored cherubic statue was again placed prominently in front of the historic Kirkbride Building on the grounds of the Oregon State Hospital – more than 110 years following its initial installment.
Very little is known about Baby Hercules. The earliest photos featuring him were taken in 1905. He was a mainstay on the campus for 50 years but when the turnaround entry path where he was located became part of a parking lot plan, he was placed in storage.
Some time later the Superintendent’s Council, comprised of patients representing each of the hospital wards, wanted to do something nice for the community. After seeing photos of the statue, they decided this would be their gift to the community. They brought it out of storage, restored it and placed it on the corner of Center and 23rd streets. Within the first 24 hours it was vandalized. Patients repaired it and returned it to the corner, only to be vandalized again. At the suggestion of the superintendent’s wife, the statue was moved to the backyard of the superintendent’s home located on the state hospital grounds for safekeeping. And there he stayed until the superintendent and other staff moved on and the hospital began repurposing the cottages. Dismantled into three pieces so that he could fit into the small room where other artifacts were stored, Baby Hercules would remain in storage for decades. In 2011, he surfaced again when he became part of the OSH Replacement Project’s landscape restoration plan.
Statesman Journal: State Hospital Nears Finish of New Facility
National Public Radio: Oregon State Hospital Prepares To Open Final Wing
Mental Health Association of Portland: Oregon State Hospital Opens New Wing, Offers Public Tours, and More