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100-year-old Wichita statue comes down for repairs

Published on -11/6/2013, 5:06 PM

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WICHITA, Kan. (AP) -- A 100-year-old statue has been removed from its perch atop a Civil War memorial in Wichita and sent to central Missouri for repairs.

The Wichita Eagle (http://is.gd/DXhhJN ) reports that the 13-foot-tall statue, named "Liberty," usually occupies the pinnacle of the Soldiers and Sailors Civil War Monument on the south lawn of the Sedgwick County Historic Courthouse. But this week, the metal statue was carried out on a flatbed trailer and will undergo work at the shops of Russell-Marti Conservation Services in California, Mo.

Dora Timmerman, chairwoman of a campaign that renovated the monument in 2000, said she has talked with the Russell-Marti team, and they've told her the crack at the base of the statue "is a minor thing, but you can't leave it alone or it will become major."

The "Liberty" statue was designed and built by the W.H. Mullins Co. of Salem, Ohio, which specialized about a century ago in making metal statues for Civil War memorials. "Liberty" was a popular standard design.

Eric Cale, director of the Wichita-Sedgwick County Historical Museum, said that after the Civil War, veterans streamed to Kansas, attracted by the opportunity the frontier had to offer.

"It just made sense to come to Kansas," he said. "It was the place where it was all happening. It was the place to go and get away from all the old, bad memories of the war."

Cale said the Grand Army of the Republic, a fraternal organization for veterans, "wanted a lasting tribute to the conflict" beyond the two smaller Civil War monuments already in the city.

Timmerman said the sense of urgency to do that grew in the early 1900s because "people were realizing if they did not build the monument at that time, the soldiers would no longer be around."

The Soldiers and Sailors Monument became the "grand central monument" for the city, Cale said.

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