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Published: Friday, 6/13/2014 - Updated: 4 months ago

RESTORING PRESIDENT McKINLEY’S ORIGINAL SHINE

UT students help return bronze in courthouse statue

BY MADELINE R. CONWAY
BLADE STAFF WRITER
Hannah Yeager, left, and Conor Roberts apply wax after heating the statue of President William McKinley while they work with classmates to restore the sculpture, which is on the south side of the Lucas County Courthouse. Hannah Yeager, left, and Conor Roberts apply wax after heating the statue of President William McKinley while they work with classmates to restore the sculpture, which is on the south side of the Lucas County Courthouse.
THE BLADE/KATIE RAUSCH Enlarge | Buy This Photo

A century-old statue on the south lawn of the Lucas County Courthouse changed color overnight — almost literally.

The statue of former President William McKinley looks a lot more like it did 100 years ago. A group of University of Toledo students performed conservation on the statue this week — scrubbing, heating, and waxing the sculpture to restore its original bronze color from an aged green.

“It looks completely restored,” Don Colby, common pleas court administrator, said Thursday. “It’s bronze again.”

PHOTO GALLERY: Restoration of President McKinley statue

The statue is not the courthouse’s first to undergo such a transformation. UT professor Thomas Lingeman, whose outdoor sculpture conservation class restored the statue during the last two weeks, similarly led an effort to conserve The Hiker, a statue on the courthouse’‍s north lawn, last summer.

Overall, Mr. Lingeman’‍s eight students devoted 288 hours to restoring the McKinley statue, and for them the project was an opportunity not only to learn proper waxing technique, but also to foster a sense of civic pride in the community and recreate history, they said.

A group of students from the University of Toledo have been restoring the bronze statue, plaques and stone base throughout the past week. A group of students from the University of Toledo have been restoring the bronze statue, plaques and stone base throughout the past week.
THE BLADE/KATIE RAUSCH Enlarge | Buy This Photo

“For me, that’s the biggest thing,” longtime Toledo resident and UT student Marilyn Decker, 60, said as she watched classmates work on the statue Wednesday. “Just [building] the pride in the community.”

To Ms. Decker, who was born in Toledo and has lived in the city for more than 45 years, the restored statue symbolizes a commitment to keeping up the city’s landmarks and landscapes.

Crystal Terry, a Toledo resident and student in the course, called the project “hard work.” The students scrubbed the stone that sits beneath President McKinley’‍s feet with special nonionic soap, Mr. Lingeman said, and spent hours applying wax to the statue and the plaques on its side. Students perched on a man lift to reach the statue.

For Ms. Terry, it was well worth the effort to restore the statue so that passers-by can get a better picture of what contemporaries saw just after sculptor Albert Weinert put it in place — even if working atop the lift was a bit intimidating, she said.

“We don’‍t want to lose pieces of history,” Ms. Terry said. “We didn’‍t get to see what it looked like originally. ... It’‍s the only way we’d even be able ... to imagine what it was like.”

Contact Madeline R. Conway at: madeline.r.conway@gmail.com or 419-724-6050, or on Twitter @MadelineRConway.



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