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Storied Structure: Elevator Lobby

The Thomas J. Moyer Ohio Judicial Center’s main level, where most visitors enter, teems with lush architectural features, bronzed faces of history, and hearing rooms ornamented with wall-sized murals. Even while waiting for an elevator, one is surrounded with artistic depictions of the sources of Ohio’s prosperity.

  • Image of the building directory in the elevator lobby of the Thomas J. Moyer Ohio Judicial Center

    The Ohio Supreme Court’s first-floor elevator lobby is no ordinary one. Housing eight elevators, it is adorned with visual riches – in marble, bronze, and nickel, from ornate mosaics to meticulously designed metal molds – all displaying a beautiful sampling of the building’s distinctive design. Within the art lives stories – expressing the artistic styles chosen by those who constructed the building as well as the ancient myths that resonate with Ohio’s history.

  • Image of a mosaic tile rendering of Roman goddess Ceres

    Each end of the elevator lobby is anchored by massive, intricate mosaics. At the south side, above a marble stairwell, stands Ceres, goddess of agriculture and grain in Roman mythology. The word “cereal” is derived from her name, and a bushel of grains is shown at her side. The mosaics of Ceres and Vulcan, who resides at the lobby’s other end, were designed by German artist Rudolf Scheffler. He shared his artistry in at least seven Ohio projects, including murals and mosaics for four churches.

  • Image of a close-up look at mosaic tile rendering of Roman goddess Ceres

    At Ceres’ feet rests a platter of fruit, along with the words “Fruits of the Soil.” She stands on a serpent. The story of Ceres is one way of accounting for the change in the seasons, and the snake may represent a spring-like renewal of life because it sheds its skin. A leaf-and-plant motif is visible around the goddess. This type of decor and the mosaic convey agriculture’s centrality to Ohio’s economy.

  • Image of mosaic tile rendering of the Roman god Vulcan

    Positioned at the elevator lobby’s north side is Vulcan, the Roman god of fire, volcanoes, metalworking, and craftsmanship. Carrying a sledgehammer and standing in front of an anvil, Vulcan symbolizes Ohio’s industrial and manufacturing resources. The phrase “Harnessing the Elements” may refer to the use of fire and the tools in making steel, a key industry in the state.

  • Image of a close-up look at mosaic tile rendering of Roman god Vulcan

    Court staff calculated that each mosaic in the elevator lobby contains at least 20,000 tiles. The cherub at Vulcan’s feet perhaps alludes to his wife, Venus, often considered the goddess of love. Ceres and Vulcan are frequent subjects in murals of the Beaux-Arts movement – a French style emphasizing a combination of classical and Renaissance styles. Richly decorated interiors are a hallmark of Beaux Arts.

  • Image of ornamental moldings showing cornstalks and gears

    Opportunities to carry the lobby’s themes rarely were missed. The lobby’s cornices, the ornamental moldings near the ceilings, even echo the ideas of the room. On Ceres’ side of the lobby, plaster cornices of cornstalks (left) pay tribute to Ohio’s farming communities. Near Vulcan are cornices decorated with gears (right), representing manufacturing.

  • Image of ceiling paintings featuring constellations in the zodiac

    The ceiling near Ceres (left) reveals eight constellations in the zodiac. Farmers relied on constellations as planting and harvesting signals. Eight winds are shown on the ceiling (right) spanning the foyer in front of Vulcan. These sizable red-and-gold paintings, roughly 13 feet by 9 feet, tie together different aspects of nature that can produce a successful agricultural community. The Rambusch Decorating Company, founded in 1898 by Danish immigrant Frode Rambusch and still operating, was hired to create the striking decorations and also restored them after the 1932 natural gas explosion in the building.

  • Image of the ornate, bronze elevator doors in the elevator lobby of the Thomas J. Moyer Ohio Judicial Center

    The Roman myth of Ceres explains the four seasons – which are depicted across half of the eight elevator doors. After Ceres’ daughter was abducted by Pluto, the king of Hades, Ceres was so heartbroken that she stopped attending to the Earth’s fruits and grains, which withered and died. Pluto was ordered to release Ceres’ daughter for six months each year. When her daughter returns in the spring and summer, the Earth prospers under Ceres’ care; when her daughter must leave in the fall and winter, the mother in her grief neglects the Earth.

  • Image of a set of ornate, bronze elevator doors featuring male and female figures

    Each bronze-and-nickel elevator door features a bas-relief panel of male and female figures working on the tasks of that season. WINTER (left). A man carries a bundle of firewood as icicles hang from tree branches behind him, while a woman prepares to spin wool into yarn. SPRING (right). A woman collects flowers, smelling one, while a man sows seeds. The sun rises from a lower corner, radiating in the background.

  • Image a set of ornate, bronze elevator doors featuring male and female figures

    These carvings, as well as the elevator doors, were designed by sculptor Paul Fjelde, who also crafted the four panels of indigenous leaders housed in the Supreme Court’s Civic Center Lobby, one floor below. Fjelde started art school in Minneapolis at 14 years old. SUMMER (left). With the sun positioned high in the sky, a man uses a scythe to sow a field of grain. A woman carries a sheaf of harvested grain on her shoulder. FALL (right). Exhibiting the autumn harvest, a woman makes wine from grapes, and a man picks apples.

  • Image of a set of ornate, bronze elevator doors featuring male and female figures

    Across from the seasons are four elevator doors that signify what medieval alchemists believed were the sources of all matter – the elements earth, wind, water, and fire. The panels play off of “Harnessing the Elements,” the language appearing at Vulcan’s feet. EARTH (left). A man digs into a field, and a woman gathers a harvest of root vegetables. WIND (right). A woman frees a bird from its cage, as the wind whips her hair northward. A man prepares to launch a kite.

  • Image of a set of ornate, bronze elevator doors featuring male and female figures

    Art Deco design, prominent throughout the building, is exemplified by the precise and stylized forms on the door panels. Also, notice the positioning of the feet, similar to Egyptian art, which influenced Art Deco after King Tut’s tomb was discovered in 1922. WATER (left). A fisherman heads home with the day’s catch, as his counterpart totes water in two yoked buckets. Water ripples behind them, as a turtle and starfish rest on the shore. FIRE (right). Fire serves as a power and light source, portrayed by a woman carrying a torch, and a man operating a blowtorch.

  • Image of a set of ornate, bronze and glass doors at the Front Street entrance of the Thomas J. Moyer Ohio Judicial Center

    When first opening as the State Office Building, two entrances from Front Street flowed into the foyers that flank the elevator lobby. According to a March 27, 1933, article from the Columbus Evening Dispatch, when the state needed to hire “courteous and intelligent” elevator operators, it turned to the Ohio State University Athletic Department. “Your heroes of the gridiron, those brawny lads who traveled under the scarlet and gray colors of Ohio State university, will, at least temporarily, call ‘floor please’ at the new state office building, which opens Monday,” the article began.

  • Image of an ornate, bronze mailbox

    Even the mailbox designed for the building is elaborate. Many visitors ask, “Is it still in use?” It’s not. It illustrates, though, how the Moyer Judicial Center’s most mundane and functional items and areas – like a mailbox or an elevator lobby – received as much attention to their beauty and craftsmanship as the principal spaces, such as the Grand Concourse and main Courtroom. Even the elevator lobby is a work of art!

In-person tours at the Thomas J. Moyer Ohio Judicial Center are limited at this time because of ongoing concerns related to COVID-19. To find out whether guided or self-guided tours can be arranged in your circumstances, or to discuss alternative ways to learn more about the exquisite building, call 614.387.9223 or email For a virtual visit of the Civic Center Lobby, which honors the state’s indigenous people, check out CNO’s earlier “Storied Structure” slideshow.

To learn more about the Supreme Court’s civic education programs and Visitor Education Center, which is packed with interactive exhibits explaining the structure and significance of Ohio courts, call 614.387.9223 or email


Research: Sara Stiffler, Mason Farr
Photography/Design: Ely Margolis
Web: Erika Lemke