Civil War statues reinstalled after overdue cleaning

SYCAMORE- After a six-month absence, the statues of two Civil War soldiers have returned to guard duty outside the DeKalb County Courthouse. The two life-size copper statues were returned to their place on the county's Civil War monument Wednesday after being cleaned and restored by Evanston-based Botti Studio of Architectural Art. The statues were removed for the restoration late last July. “This was the first time in 110 years they've been cleaned," DeKalb County Facilities Manager Ken Campbell said. “They looked like they were bronze, but (restorers) took them down to the bare metal, and they were this bright copper, like a shiny penny." Campbell said restorers used solder to repair splitting seams in the hollow statues, then applied a patina and finish to the metal to make it look like bronze. “Now they're probably good for another 100 years," he said. Botti worker Johnny Pinzari said the restoration was a routine one for the firm, whose past projects include restoring the courthouse's stained-glass windows in 2004 and conserving the Marc Chagall mosaic “Les Quatre Saisons" at Bank One Plaza in Chicago in 1994. “Pretty normal day today," Pinzari said as he prepared to reinstall the statues. He said the detailed restorations are a team effort. “I do a little bit of the restoration, but the guys in the studio do most of it," he said. “Nobody can say, 'I did this.'" Campbell said the total project cost $16,500, including take-down and reinstallation of the statues. The county had budgeted $15,000. “I figured this out, and over 110 years, that comes down to 41 cents a day to restore them," he said. “Nothing much has to be done to maintain them." Despite the prominence of the 50-foot-tall monument on the courthouse lawn, Campbell said no residents contacted the county wondering where the soldiers were. “People didn't even notice," he said. “I could have brought them home and put them in my closet and nobody would have known. I mentioned to some people that the statues were coming back, and they said, 'What statues?'" Campbell said only county historian Phyllis Kelley, who works in the Sycamore Public Library's Joiner History Room where the windows overlook the courthouse lawn, asked what was happening the day the statues came down. “She was the only one in the county who noticed," he said. Dana Herra can be reached at dherra@daily-chronicle.com.