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The Hiker, a statue that has graced the north lawn of the Lucas County Courthouse for nearly a century, is getting its boots shined.
An outdoor sculpture conservation class at the University of Toledo has been cleaning the bronze statue, which was dedicated Nov. 11, 1925, to veterans of the Spanish-American War.
“A lot of people, they love their green statues in the park, and then, when there’s a change, they say, ‘Oh my God, what did they do?’” said Thomas Lingeman, an art professor at UT. “Well, they did maintenance on that piece that will preserve it. When we’re done, this will look a lot more like it did when it was unveiled.”
Designed by American sculptor Theo Alice Ruggles Kitson, The Hiker depicts a Spanish-American War soldier standing in a ready position, his gun hanging from both arms. A saddle bag hangs on his left hip and a canteen on his right.
Mr. Lingeman said it’s one of at least 50 identical statues across the country.
“It was a very popular piece — very popular with soldiers, very popular with veterans at the time,” he said. “One thing about Kitson was, people felt she was able to capture the feeling of what it was to be a soldier.”
After an estimated 225 man hours spent washing and rinsing the 8-foot-tall soldier, students Tuesday night gave the statue a good waxing with Butcher’s Bowling Alley Wax, a product commonly used for outdoor bronze sculpture preservation, Mr. Lingeman said.
“They go dry,” he said. “In other words, the wax evaporates. The elements attack them — the rain, the snow, the rain, the snow, over the seasons, over the years.”
The cleaning and waxing should result in the aged black and green tint of the sculpture returning to its original brownish hue, Mr. Lingeman said.
“We really basically have given it a bath and a rewaxing — a good bath,” he said.
The project has been a “great partnership” with UT, said Laura Lloyd Jenkins, county administrator.
“It’s awesome,” she said. “All we have to pay for is the scaffolding, which is about $700. For the work that we’re getting and for the experience for the students, it’s a no-brainer.”
Mr. Lingeman, who worked with students last year to clean the statute of Commodore Oliver Hazard Perry in Perrysburg, said it’s been a pleasure to work on The Hiker. “That sculpture is in beautiful condition,” he said. “We marveled at how well cared for it is. The community’s loved that piece.”
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