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Tuesday, September 30, 2014

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Selectmen back plan to restore Minute Man statue

Updated 7:40 am, Thursday, July 24, 2014
  • Plans to restore the Minute Man statue have won the support of the Board of Selectmen. Photo: File Photo / Westport News
    Plans to restore the Minute Man statue have won the support of the Board of Selectmen. Photo: File Photo

 

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The Board of Selectmen has unanimously approved $66,900 for the restoration of the Minute Man monument, the town's signature symbol.

Work on the statue, commemorating the local militia who took on invading British troops in 1777, will be done by Francis Miller of Hamden.

The project involves the entire statue setting at the intersection of Compo Road South and Compo Beach Road. This includes the bronze statue itself and plaque, a rubble-stone pedestal, wrought iron fencing, the field stone wall and masonry supporting the fence.

Miller will be the conservator of the project, overseeing the restoration work that will be done by individual contractors.

"He's local and sought out local contractors for the project," Kathie Bennewitz, town curator and a member of the Arts Advisory Committee, told the selectmen Wednesday. She said Miller is well known for some of the projects he's done, including restoring the Civil War Monument at Bridgeport's Seaside Park.

She said the restoration work, which will involve "reworking the stone foundation and raising it about 18 inches," will begin in late August. "The mound of earth -- the grassy pedestal," will also be reworked, she said. "There's a lot of erosion," Bennewitz noted.

"We are considering a donation of stone for around the base," she added. She said the donation could come from local farmers and residents.

The statue, which will also be repaired, will "be undisturbed" during the process, said Bennewitz.

Miller initially bid $68,900 for the project, but then reduced it to the amount approved. The town had put aside $79,150 for the project.

"This is terrific," First Selectman Jim Marpe said about the reduction in cost. He added Miller's credentials "are astounding."

The Minute Man Monument Restoration Committee, a subcommittee of the Historic District Commission and the town's Arts Advisory Committee, is overseeing the project.

The monument, unveiled June 17, 1920, is a tribute to local farmers and businessmen who took up arms and fought the British during the Revolution.