From stone to bronze: New life for a Civil War soldier

  • Detail of the bronze replica of a Civil War soldier before it was hoisted atop the obelisk on the Old Deerfield Common. STAFF PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ

  • Francis Miller of Conserve Art unwraps the bronze replica of a Civil War soldier before hoisting it atop the obelisk on the Old Deerfield Common. The carved stone original was too badly damaged to repair and now resides behind glass at the Deerfield Town Hall. STAFF PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ

  • STAFF PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ

  • STAFF PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ

  • Francis Miller of Conserve Art lowers the bronze replica statue onto the obelisk on the Old Deerfield Common. STAFF PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ

  • Detail of the inscription on the obelisk on the Old Deerfield Common. STAFF PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ

Staff Writer
Published: 6/10/2019 10:35:21 PM

DEERFIELD — The sentry has resumed his post.

Those who visited the Old Deerfield Common this last week may have seen a sight that is technically new, but — for those who have been in Deerfield for more than a few years — familiar.

That’s because a replica of the Civil War soldier statue that was at the park for 148 years now stands at the top of the Deerfield Civil War Monument.

Following a period of absence — the original statue was taken down in 2015 — a collaborative effort between the town, Historic Deerfield, Conserve ART LLC, Pocumtuck Valley Memorial Association, the Deerfield Historical Commission and Deerfield Academy has led to the creation of the new bronze statue.

Deerfield has had a statue of a bearded Union soldier, standing at parade rest, for nearly half its existence as a town. In 1867, just two years after the Civil War concluded, the original statue was erected.

Carved by Charles Conrad, of Batterson Monumental Works in Hartford, Conn., the stone statue was believed to be one of the first of its kind in Massachusetts, as well as one of the first to depict an actual soldier in the United States. Batterson Monumental Works made several other, nearly identical, statues that were placed at monuments like the Granby Civil War Monument in Granby, Conn., and the Knight Hospital Monument in Evergreen Cemetery, New Haven, Conn.

But after standing for well over a century, the stone statue was worn. In 2013, a project to professionally clean the statue, started by Deerfield Academy students Peter and Lauren Stobierski, revealed extensive damage. It was ultimately determined the statue would eventually collapse, and it was taken down in 2015.

The Stobierskis secured a $4,000 grant from the state Department of Veterans Affairs to Pocumtuck Valley Memorial Association, which was matched by the students’ parents, Deerfield residents John and Pam Stobierski, after which the original statue was able to be taken down from atop the 30-feet-tall monument.

The original stone sculpture is now encased and on display at the Deerfield Town Hall, but to recreate the statue memorializing the soldiers of America’s deadliest conflict, it took $39,000 of Community Preservation Act money — in addition to donations through Deerfield Academy, particularly the Class of 1969, which just celebrated its 50th reunion.

According to a statement from Conserve ART, a company that helped with the statue’s recreation, Dale Fiore, the general manager of Evergreen Cemetery in New Haven, Conn., permitted replication of the cemetery’s soldier statue, which was nearly identical to the old stone statue in Deerfield.

A digital scan by Direct Dimensions Inc. allowed a virtual model to be created, which was then used to create a life-sized foam statue of the soldier. At Modern Art Foundry in New York, a wax model was created based on the foam sculpture, encased in plaster and put into a kiln.

According to Conserve ART, the wax melted, creating a hollow, plaster model, before the foundry team melted ingots of bronze and poured the “white-hot liquified metal into the plaster hollows. After cooling, the bronze surfaces were finished.”

It may be a new statue, but it has all the features of the old stone one, right down to similar coloring, with a patina applied to the bronze that was designed to mimic the sandstone coloring of the original.

Reach David McLellan at dmclellan@recorder.com or 413-772-0261, ext. 268.




Greenfield Recorder

14 Hope Street
Greenfield, MA 01302-1367
Phone: (413) 772-0261
Fax: (413) 772-2906

 

Copyright © 2019 by Newspapers of Massachusetts, Inc.
Terms & Conditions - Privacy Policy