Work continues on replica of Deerfield’s Civil War statue

  • The Civil War statue of a soldier now resides in a plastic box at the Deerfield Town Offices. —STAFF PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ

  • The Civil War statue of a soldier now resides in a plastic box at the Deerfield Town Offices. STAFF PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ

  • The base or plinth for the Civil War statue of a soldier now which resides in a plastic box at the Deerfield Town Offices is enshrouded in scaffolding and tarps at the Deerfield Academy campus in Old Deerfield. —STAFF PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ

Staff Writer
Published: 9/25/2018 12:09:50 AM

DEERFIELD — Reinforcements are on the way for the Civil War soldier statue that once stood guard on the Old Deerfield Common.

The sandstone statue was moved from atop a 150-year-old monument to inside the Deerfield Town Offices almost exactly two years ago after conservators deemed it unsuitable for repair and feared it would topple. John Nove, chairman of the Deerfield Historical Commission, said a mold is being made from an identical statue in the Evergreen Cemetery in New Haven, Conn., and a bronze replica funded by the 1969 graduating class of Deerfield Academy will be cast and installed on the obelisk. He said a dedication is planned for June.

At Wednesday’s Deerfield Selectboard meeting, Town Administrator Wendy Foxmyn said work on the replacement is progressing.

Nove said the identical statue in New Haven is made of granite. He also mentioned the obelisk in Old Deerfield is 29 feet tall.

The removed statue now keeps a watchful eye over municipal meetings, standing stoically inside an acrylic case in the back of the town offices’ main room. It appears the bearded soldier, wearing a cap and a coat, once balanced a musket vertically on the ground with both hands, though it seems all except part of the gun’s barrel fell off, never to be found. There is decay visible on his belt and his right bicep. A massive crack where his right leg meets the hip proceeds down the leg, almost detaching it from the statue. There are also cracks in the coat draped over him and in the base.

According to information on a podium nearby, the statue had been in Old Deerfield since 1867, two years after the Civil War ended.

Two years ago, Francis Miller, a conservator and owner of Conserve ART LLC, explained parts of the base were so degraded he could rub away sandstone with a finger.

“It’s a beautiful monument, and it’s nice to see the sculpture at eye level,” he said at the time.

The monument is believed to be one of the first of its kind in Massachusetts and one of the first to depict an actual soldier.

The restoration project began in November of 2013 when two students from Deerfield Academy, Peter and Lauren Stobierski of Deerfield, researched and applied for a $4,000 matching grant from the state Department of Veterans Affairs, which was subsequently awarded to PVMA. The students’ parents, Deerfield residents John and Pam Stobierski, matched the grant, bringing the total to $8,000.

The acrylic case was built by SmallCorp of Greenfield.

The statue stands in front of a historic display case containing Paleolithic artifacts, given to the town by Deerfield Academy.

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