GREAT BARRINGTON — Visitors to Great Barrington coming from the West will have a restored Newsboy statue to welcome them into town in September.
"The statue is an important public monument," Great Barrington Historic Commission Chairman Paul Ivory said. "It's a paean to the common man."
The Newsboy statue was a gift to the town in 1895 from resident Col. William L. Brown. Brown was a newspaperman and politician that made Great Barrington his home at the end of his life. The Newsboy was repaired for its centennial in 1995, but the repairs did little to stop the deterioration and corrosion of the statue, so the Historic Commission applied for a grant to fully remediate the statue.
The statue is being remediated thanks in part to a grant from the Great Barrington Community Preservation Committee. The Committee assigns Community Preservation Act grants to projects in the town that meet the act's guidelines. The act itself is "a state law through which communities may fund projects for four purposes: open space preservation, creation of community housing, preservation of historic buildings and landscapes, and the creation of recreational resources."
Committee Chairman Tom Blauvelt said he was happy with the project.
"We supported the project," he said. "The Newsboy statue is a historic monument for the town. We think the funding was worthwhile."
The cleanup on the statue was extensive. The Historic Commission chose Cambridge-based Daedalus Art Restoration to do the bulk of the fixing of the statue's "poor condition," Ivory said.
The cleanup included scraping off layers of the anti-corrosion lacquer "incralac" which is made specifically to protect bronze from the elements. Over time, Ivory explained, the lacquer became corroded and cracked. So, Daedalus washed and removed the incralac and then reapplied it on the base bronze of the statue.
"The core of the project is done," Ivory said. "Now we're working on trying to fix the fountain."
The fountain in the statue has not been operational for decades, but today two of the four heads are working with the basins. The Historic Commission has hired local Gilmore Plumbing to replace the pump. The last pump burned out because it had no shut off. The new pump shuts off automatically.
Once the work is complete, the funding will be turned to annual maintenance for the statue. Daedalus will give the Historic Commission instructions for inspections once the project is completed.
"We'll have annual inspections," Ivory said. "Annual maintenance is really crucial for large outlays of funding for a project like this."