Family

Crew removes Lexington fountain statues of children for winter repairs

A crew from American Industrial Contractors used a crane Tuesday to remove statues from the Gratz Park fountain. They will be repaired over the winter.
A crew from American Industrial Contractors used a crane Tuesday to remove statues from the Gratz Park fountain. They will be repaired over the winter. Herald-Leader

The statues of a playful boy and girl on the fountain in Gratz Park were removed Tuesday so they can be repaired over the winter while the fountain is rebuilt.

The fountain was built in 1933 as a tribute to the city's children from a bequest by Lexington-born author James Lane Allen. But it has been experiencing crumbling concrete and broken plumbing in recent years, and there was concern about possible deterioration inside the bronze statues by sculptor Joseph Pollia.

Brad Connell and Amanda Matthews of Prometheus Foundry in Lexington worked with a crane crew from American Industrial Contractors to carefully detach the statues from granite rocks in the fountain and lift them to the ground.

Connell and Matthews will refurbish the statues and repair a few cracks so the statues can be returned to the park when the fountain reconstruction is finished in May. The statues appeared to be in better shape than was feared, the two said.

The only serious problem they saw was deterioration in and around a post holding the girl in place. That might have been the result of repairs made after vandals pushed the statue into the fountain in 1969 and again in 1983.

"Otherwise it looks pretty good; I see no signs of 'bronze disease,'" Matthews said, referring to deterioration that can be caused by poorly alloyed material. "A good bronze alloy can last 10,000 years."

However, refurbishing the statues will be complicated because the bronze alloy's high lead content will require strict environmental and safety procedures, she said.

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