Ohio restoration company returns to care for statue after Irma leaves her mark

Emmett Lodge applies a topcoat of wax to the newly cleaned statue, Spiritualized Life.

Emmett Lodge applies a topcoat of wax to the newly cleaned statue, Spiritualized Life.

Two years after an Ohio company took on and completed the restoration of the statue in the fountain at Memorial Park on Riverside Avenue, Hurricane Irma swept through the park in September 2017 and left behind evidence of its destructive force.

When Irma’s flood waters inundated the park, they filled the hollow sculpture with brackish water through its natural pores and drain holes. As the water receded, the brackish water drained out of the sculpture and left behind salt deposits in the pores of the bronze.

“Because coatings applied to the surface cannot seal all of the pores, those pores corroded and green corrosion seeped to the exterior of the sculpture,” said Michele Luthin, a spokesperson for Memorial Park Association. “About this time, the wax topcoat had reached the end of its life and had blanched to a white powder. This was stained by the progressing corrosion and resulted in the unsightly appearance of the sculpture.”

The Memorial Park Association contracted with McKay Lodge Conservation Laboratory of Oberlin, Ohio, to recondition the iconic statue in the park’s fountain. The work took place in early May.

When the company did its original restoration in November 2015, they coated the statue with a lacquer clear coat and then a paste wax topcoat.

McKay Lodge’s treatment this time involved high pressure water washing of the interior and exterior of the sculpture to remove bound chlorides. They also used this water to blast away the old wax coating, leaving the originally applied clear coat. This removed 90 percent of the corrosion staining and left a clean slate with which to apply a new layer of lacquer to bring back the original appearance, according to Emmett Lodge. Barring any new hurricanes, the sculpture will maintain this look for several years, said Luthin.

The company also cleaned and treated the two bronze eagle statues with hot wax. The eagles were sculpted and donated by Diane LaFond Insetta in 2011 and flank the fountain’s entrance.

By Kate A. Hallock
Resident Community News

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