Restored statue will return to Whitehouse

A 116-year-old statue is returning to Whitehouse this weekend in its original home in the Whitehouse Village Park just in time for Veterans Day weekend.

Article by Zack Lemon

“This would be a perfect time to do a rededication,” village councilman Mindy Curry said. Before becoming a member of council, she and Tracey Wilder helped lead a group of citizens who wanted to keep the statue in its original home at St. Louis and Providence streets.

“It makes me feel good that we could preserve the message of our ancestors,” Ms. Wilder said.

The statue was taken down in March, 2015, for restoration. At the time, the village had discussed plans to move the statue to the site of the forthcoming Veterans Memorial Park at Providence and Maumee streets.

The statue was first dedicated on July 4, 1900, to the Grand Army of the Republic.

“This small town really sacrificed a lot,” Ms. Wilder said. With much of the fighting happening far from northwest Ohio, “women and children had to hold the fort, had to get by.”

It took Whitehouse residents 13 years to gather the funds to purchase the statue, Ms. Wilder said, and they placed it in what was the town’s center so everyone coming through town would see it.

“The sacrifice was what mattered to them,” she said. “I think the message is timeless. … The message is freedom is not free.”

The restoration cost the village roughly $19,000.

“Past repairs were failing,” village community development coordinator Barb Knisley said. “It was going to fall apart.”

“It had a lot of cracks in it,” Tom Podnar, the head conservator at McKay Lodge Fine Arts Conservatory in Oberlin, said. In a past attempt to repair the statue, insulation foam was placed in the hollow statue, which Mr. Podnar said posed long-term risks to the statue.

“They can last a long time as long as they’re cared for,” he said.

The statue will be rededicated at noon today. Ms. Wilder will speak, along with representatives from the Veterans Memorial Park committee and the American Legion.

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