If all goes well with the project, in just a month or two the Anthony Wayne statue at Freimann Square will be restored to its former glory.
“We want to bring it back to what the artist intended and a historically accurate finish,” Bartosz Dajnowski, one of the people working on the project, said Thursday as he and his father, Andrzej Dajnowski, worked on the statue.
The father-son team is part of a family-owned business based in Forest Park, Illinois, that focuses on restoration work.
And though their objective is to have the general's statue returned to how it was nearly 100 years ago, it is their route to that goal that's unique.
By the end of their work, the statue will have been restored without a single abrasive material or cleaning agent touching its surface.
In fact, the only thing that will come into contact with the statue is a beam of light.
That laser-cleaning technique, which the Dajnowskis first used in 2004, results in better detail preservation and poses less risk to workers, passers-by and the environment, they said.
“It's completely environmentally friendly. There is no chemical waste. We're using light,” Bartosz said.
Unlike blasting a statue with an abrasive or scrubbing with chemicals, the laser technique fully cleans small openings or pores in the statue and gets rid of all the contaminants.
Bartosz said other methods carry the risk of simply smoothing over the opening, leaving it looking good, but still full of material that could damage the statue.
“From the top looking at it, … it will look shiny and clean because you can't see you just trapped something inside,” he said.
Using the laser cleaner he built, Bartosz did a small test section, but the radiant copper betrays how the final result will look.
He stressed the statue will not look like a new penny and will instead have a historic bronze finish.
Photos of the statue when it was first built and consultation with the city's parks department will determine the final color and shine.
Aside from the cleaning work, the Dajnowskis will replace missing or damaged parts of the statue, including the spurs, reins and part of a sword blade.
“Somebody must have pictures of the original,” Andrzej Dajnowski said.
That's something for which Robyn Zimmerman is also hoping.
She's with the Allen County Courthouse Preservation Trust and would like anyone with historic photos of the statue to come forward with them.
She can be reached at Robyn.Zimmerman@allencounty.us or 449-4246.
Funding for the maintenance to the statue comes from part of $100,000 the courthouse preservation trust gave to the city for improvements to the statue and Freimann Square, according to Natalie Eggeman, public information officer for the parks department.
The plan to clean the statue came about after a failed proposal by Mayor Tom Henry last year to move the statue to the Courthouse Green.
The preservation trust opposed the move, arguing that anything placed on the Courthouse lawn would take away from the historic qualities of the Courthouse.
In August, the mayor's office accepted the preservation trust's offer of $100,000 to enhance Freimann Square and make the statue more visible.
Cleaning for the statue was estimated at the time to cost about $40,000.