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City of Madison News Release
For Immediate Release:
May 29, 2012
For More Information Contact:
Karin Wolf, Arts Program Administrator
Informational Website Link:
Liberty is Restored!
On Tuesday, May 29, 2012 the City's Statue of Liberty Replica was replaced on her plinth in Warner Park. Removed for conservation on December 7, 2009, a dedicated group of community volunteers has been working for almost two and a half years to repair the extreme damage the statue has endured in the last 60 years.
The Statue of Liberty replica was commissioned by the Boy Scouts of America in the 1950's as part of a nationwide effort to celebrate America's Freedoms. Madison's version of the statue was originally a gift from Madison Rotary Club. It was placed in Giddings Park on June 14, 1951 and relocated to Warner Park on October 28, 1971. But after 40 years of harsh Wisconsin weather and acts of vandalism the statue was almost beyond repair and was on a list of Madison's top 10 endangered public art/cultural icons (along with "Let the Great Spirit Soar" or "Effigy Tree" which was saved in 2009, and the Annie Stewart Fountain, which remains on the list of works in the City collection that are in dire condition.)
In fall of 2009, a group of Northside residents, led by Barbara Arnold, John Frey, and Sue Peck agreed to attempt to save the piece as an important icon of the Northside and an important part of Madison's and the country's cultural and historical legacy. Other prominent members of the Northside community including Alder Anita Weir (who began working on the project prior to becoming a member of Madison's Common Council), County Supervisor Paul Rusk, and Gerhart Pechmann of Pechmann Memorials, rallied to help save Liberty. Over the two-plus year process many others have contributed time and funds to the effort as well.
For example, in 2010 a group of gifted and talented third graders from Schenk Elementary, worked with their teacher, Mrs. Carol Krizmanic to raise approximately $3000 through penny drives, button sales, garage sales and bake sales. They turned the service learning project into a whole unit and also thoroughly studied the meaning of the sculpture and interviewed immigrants in the Madison area.
The project may not have happened without the efforts of Tony Rajer, the historic preservationist in charge of conserving the Statue of Liberty Replica for Warner Park. Sadly, before the work was completed, Mr. Rajer passed away. On Nov. 18, 2011, he had a heart attack and died while restoring a Works Progress Administration mural in Cedar Rapids, Iowa.
Committee members then worked with Mr. Rajer's widow Christine Style; Eric Meulemans, the metal artist Mr. Rajer had hired to complete the repair work; and City of Madison staff to move the restoration effort forward. Finally, on May 23rd the sculpture was returned to Madison and today, on May 29, 2012 Pechmann Memorial resurrected the sculpture to her pedestal in Warner Park.
City Parks has already installed new flags and lights, and will soon begin landscaping the area. The re-dedication of the statue will be held on August 12, prior to the opening of the Ride-the-Drive Madison North event. All are invited.