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Sculpture honoring Claude Herbert, heroic department store Santa.
Sculpture honoring Claude Herbert, heroic department store Santa.

Santa's Sacrifice Monument

Field review by the editors.

Terre Haute, Indiana

In 1898, Claude Herbert -- who was only 18 -- was working as a Santa in a department store when it caught fire. He ran from floor to floor, rescuing women and children, before the building collapsed and killed him.

His buddies from the Spanish-American War paid to have a ten-foot-high granite memorial erected to Herbert, with a bronze plaque that did not mention that his heroic act was accomplished in Santa garb.

Shortly afterward, a horse-and-buggy ran into the memorial, so it was moved to the plaza outside Terre Haute City Hall and turned into a fountain. It eventually fell into neglect and was moved into a storage lot. In December 2022 it was restored as a waterless memorial and moved back to its original spot downtown, at the street corner of the former department store.

A new bronze sculpture, "Ascending Soul," was added to the top of the memorial, but it still doesn't mention that Herbert was Santa.

We believe this aspect deserves acknowledgment -- the day when Claude Herbert, in full holiday garb, selflessly gave the greatest of gifts to all he saved, and their families. We call it "Santa's Sacrifice Monument."

Santa's Sacrifice Monument

22-2 N. 5th St., Terre Haute, IN
Downtown, on the northeast corner of N. 5th St. and Wabash Ave.
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In the region:
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