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Town receives report of Doughboy damage

Sarah Harrington

(9/1) Repairs to the Historic Doughboy statue which was knocked off of its stand in June by a vehicle are slowly moving forward. As the statue is located in Emmitsburg’s Historical District, the town was required to retain the services of a state-approved conservator to inspect and give recommendations for the repair to the monument’s surface. Wellman Conservation was contracted to assess the damage.

According to the report submitted by Wellman Conservation, the statue and plaque had been completely restored in 1984, so at the time they were struck, they were still in relatively good condition. According to Wellman’s report, the statue appeared to have only minor damage.

The conservator’s report was broken down by repairs for each part of the statue. For the sculpture, the seams of the Doughboy will need reshaping, the paint smears on the plaque need to be removed, and some of the letters on the plaque need to be reshaped.

A protective coating sprayed on the plaque in 1984, to keep the brass from aging due to weather, was damaged in the accident, noted the conservator, and a coat of microcrystalline wax was recommended for the repaired areas on the plaque.

Though the report stated that a few of the letters in the names of the veterans on the plaque had been damaged, it confirmed that the letters were still clearly legible and could easily be reshaped - "…by careful chasing and hammering." Wellman stated that he saw no need to replace the existing plaque with a new one. Instead he recommended that town officials repair the plaque and reattach it to the base as before - thereby relieving tax payers of a very costly replacement.

For the masonry repairs, the Wellman indicated that the town could re-use the stones that made up the base the statue stood on, or replace the damaged stone with a new matching stone. If the town chose to use the existing stones, all it would have to do, according to Wellman, is "reset the four base blocks on the foundation with appropriate setting mortar and reset the existing die on the base."

The damage to the die’s edges, Wellman report stated, was aesthetic only and can be repaired by carving out the damaged areas and filling it in with an appropriate color-matched masonry restoration mortar.

As soon as the town received the conservator’s report, they began asking for bids to make the repairs. Contrary to the conservator’s recommendation to simply repair the plaque, the town bid request appears to included an option to replace the entire plaque. When asked about inclusion of a plaque replacement option on the bid request, the conservator stated that the town appears to have misinterpreted his report and that it was his recommendation that the original plaque simply be repaired and ‘replaced’ back on the monument.

Town officials refused to return calls requesting clarification of their potential misinterpretation of the conservator’s recommendation related to the repair of the plaque. The unnecessary replacement of the plaque would easily double the cost to town residents of the statue’s repair and significantly lengthen the time it will take to restore the statue to its rightful place on West Main Street.

The town council will take up review of the all bids received at their Sept 9 meeting.

Veterans reject changes to Doughboy statue

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