A large boulder with a bronze plaque placed on the Edgar County Courthouse lawn in 1921 is shining like it’s brand new.
Workers from Adams Memorial removed the bronze plaques from the stone approximately three weeks ago to begin the process of cleaning and restoring the tablets listing the names of Revolutionary War veterans buried in Edgar County. One of the tablets was created in 1921 and the second tablet dates from 1974 when additional research confirmed more veterans than were named on the original marker.
“It was in really bad shape,” Robert Stammer of Adams Memorials said about the 1921 bronze.
Refurbishing the bronze involved using a mild acid to dissolve a decades old patina to uncover the original surface. Other restoration techniques included applying three successive layers of paint and buffing off each layer as part of the cleaning process. A sandblaster with a tiny tip was used to clean the area between letters and the interiors of letters.
Stammer said workers were careful during buffing to make sure the lettering and other elements of the marker were not distorted. He noted some rounding of the letter edges did occur but not so much as to be noticeable or to make the information hard to read.
Cleaning revealed some surface pitting in the older tablet, but Stammer said the pitting is a result of the original casting technique and nothing can be done about it. The final step was applying 10 coats of a finish sealer that includes an ultra-violet protection agent. The sealer was also applied to the back of the metal tablets placed against the stone as a moisture barrier.
Before the tablets were put back in place Monday, April 22, the stone was power washed and cleaned of nearly a century’s accumulation of dirt and pollutants.
This marker dedicated to the Revolutionary War soldiers was a creation of the local chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution, and Paris resident Patti McHenry, who is a D.A.R. member, worked to raise money for the restoration. The Edgar County Historical Society assisted with the project.
Fundraising was successful enough to restore the Revolutionary War marker and another stone on the northwest corner of the courthouse lawn for Abraham Lincoln.
Stammer said the Lincoln monument presented special challenges because the table is attached to the stone in such a way that it cannot be removed. All of the cleaning work was done on site.
“We will use a real light abrasive and a sand blaster because I don’t want to spill chemicals on the ground,” Stammer said.