Only Anthony Wayne's head was visible Wednesday above the man-made cocoon that shrouds his horse-borne likeness in Freimann Square.
Behind the curtain, however, work has begun on the first major facelift of George Ganiere's sculpture of the city's namesake since 1993 – a facelift that included work that the current $60,000 project will correct, according to Andrzej Dajnowski, director of Illinois-based Conservation of Sculpture & Objects Studio.
The previous work, he said, applied a urethane coating that obscures the sculpture and is being removed as part of a laser cleansing of the statue that was created in 1914 and moved from Hayden Park to its current location in 1973.
The unique laser technique was developed by Dajnowski's son, Bartosz, and was previously used to clean an obelisk in New York City's Central Park. In addition to the cleaning, Dajnowski's studio will make minor repairs to the statue, including restoration of Wayne's missing sword and other elements.
Work began Monday and will continue in two shifts, with completion expected in about a month.
As The News-Sentinel first reported in late 2012, Mayor Tom Henry proposed moving the statue from Freimann Square to the nearby Courthouse Green to improve its visibility. But after the story appeared, courthouse preservationists and others objected to the relocation.
Henry ultimately relented after the Courthouse Preservation Trust offered to spend up to $100,000 to improve the sculpture's visibility at its present location. Once the restoration is complete, plans call for the surrounding area to receive new lighting, landscaping and other improvements.