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Portrait wars; City vs. school

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The Portrait of Judge Justus Wesley Ferris currently hangs in the council chambers at Ferris City Hall. The Portrait of Judge Justus Wesley Ferris currently hangs in the council chambers at Ferris City Hall.

FERRIS - Judge Justus Wesley Ferris is a well known man.

So known and loved he, or rather his painting, is in the middle of a dispute between the city of Ferris and the Ferris Independent School District.

Judge Ferris, actually from Waxahachie, helped the city with land agreements back in the early 1800s when the community decided to name their town after him.

According to Superintendent Mike Bodine, the portrait hung in the school, the present administration building, during the 50s and into the 80s. 

Place five council member for the city Carol Wright, used to worked for the school district.

"I was working for the district and this is before they replaced the roof so there was leaks in the building and they thought they were protecting it [the painting] but it wasn’t [being protected]," said Wright.

"I found the painting wet and it was just a matter of me being there and I took the back off to dry."

Wright said she carried the painting to then Superintendent Cal Wester and he told her to take the painting to the city.

The cities namesake painting has hung in city hall since.

Some believe the Ferris painting was donated the same time as a book was put together and given to the city by his descendents in 1953, the same date which appears on the picture.

Now, since the new renovations are complete with the school district’s administration building, FISD wants the painting back.

According to Bodine’s letter he sent to the Mayor and council he states," I have researched our board minutes from 1950 to present and find no board action that would have relinquished ownership of this prized piece of artwork.

I trust the council will see fit to return the portrait so that we can restore it to its rightful place."

After much debate during the Monday, Sept.20 regular council meeting , the council made a motion to agree on a joint ownership with the district and to make a copy of the painting so one will always be present.

"I want the picture to be protected," said Wright.

The motion passed unanimously with hopes of the school board passing the resolution at their next meeting Tuesday, Oct. 19.

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