Hand Pointing to Heaven Now Pointing Toward Virginia

Yesterday morning, bright and early, the famous Hand Pointing to Heaven high atop the steeple of Port Gibson’s First Presbyterian Church came down to the ground and is now on its way to Virginia where it will be repaired and then re-gilded by The Gilders’ Studio, the Maryland company who put the shiny new gold leaf on the New Capitol’s eagle a couple of years ago. The original hand, which imitated the hand gesture of the church’s pastor, Zebulon Butler as he preached was carved out of wood in 1859 or 1860, but it had deteriorated so much that it was replaced with a metal hand in a renovation of 1908-1909.

According to the First Presbyterian website:

The hand atop our steeple needs to be repaired and gilded.  It has been over 25 years since the current coat of gold leaf was applied, and that’s about as long as it was expected to last.  The total cost of the project is estimated to be a little over $38,000, but we are confident in the quality of the project – the company doing the regilding has recently restored the eagle atop Mississippi’s Capitol.  If you would like to contribute, click on the “give” tab and direct your gift to the hand restoration fund.

These pictures don’t show the bucket swaying while the man worked to get the straps secure and snug so the hand would be safe and sound as it made its descent. Congratulations to all concerned for taking care of one of Mississippi’s most historic, beloved, and let’s face it a little quirky piece of church architecture.

See The Hand when it arrived in Virginia

Categories: Churches, Port Gibson, Preservation People/Events, Renovation Projects


6 replies

  1. Shame on you for your lead, “Came down to the ground.” My heart skipped a beat to think a wind storm had landed it in the ground!


  2. I love this hand and have fond memories of discovering it in a magazine long ago. I always love seeing it when I pass through Port Gibson. But I hope it goes back up easy. We had a little problem getting the Goddess of Liberty back on her perch on top of the Texas State Capitol. We had to call in the Mississippi National Guard and one of their helicopters to get the fair lady situated!


    • The Mississippi Guard or the Texas Guard? I would love it if the Mississippi Guard had saved Texas’s Goddess of Liberty! :-)


      • Yes sir! This Mississippi/Texas girl is proud to report that it was the Mississippi National Guard that stepped in and saved the fair lady! The original Goddess had deteriorated to the extent that it was deemed precarious. A new, lighter weight more durable replica was to be installed atop the Capitol. Strong winds and the Chinook helicopter’s bulky design blocked the pilot’s view of where he was to drop the Goddess. One account I read compared it to threading a needle blindfolded! I think they made several attempts.

        So the Mississippi National Guard brought in their CH-54A helicopter and dropped her right into the slot waiting for her! I don’t know anything about helicopters, but it is referred to as a “skycrane”. This was in June 1986. Made me real proud!


  3. https://polldaddy.com/js/rating/rating.jsWow!! Mississippi is really on the map. Lived there as a child an loved that building.


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