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Historic Fountain Restoration, Public Art:

Life, Image by Mark Krancer

November 30, 2017 marked the end of an intense hurricane season. Earlier in the year, Hurricane Irma developed into a category 5 hurricane, sweeping over the Caribbean and Southeastern United States in early September. In Jacksonville, Florida storm surges pressed inland, the St. John’s River flooded, and 100 mph winds toppled trees and snapped power lines.

Another casualty of this Hurricane was Memorial Park located next to the St. John’s River. Memorial Park in Jacksonville, Florida was designed by the Olmsted Brothers to commemorate the 1,220 Floridians who gave their lives to protect our freedom, and it was completed in 1924. The Life statue of Memorial Park is the center of a fountain which was treated by McKay Lodge Conservation in 2015 for the Memorial Park Association.

In 2017, the statue of Life by Charles Adrian Pillars stood tall above the rising surge and battery of waves, but not all elements of the Memorial shared the same fate. This dramatic moment was captured by photographer, Mark Krancer. For those unfamiliar with the area, the image captured might not seem all that climatic; however, the area around and below the statue is normally paved pathways. The bulkhead still standing to the right of the sculpture, now nearly submerged, typically rest on dry land. In other words, that is a lot of water. An image taken during treatment from the 2015 fountain restoration by McKay Lodge better depicts this remarkable influx of water.

Fountain Restoration McKay Lodge
During treatment image captured at dawn in 2015

The fountain is yet another successful treatment led by historic fountain specialist and Conservator Thomas Podnar along with a team of professionals, which appears to have withstood hurricane force winds and water. In fact, McKay Lodge Conservation Lab, Inc. was honored to be a recipient of a Historic Preservation Award for the Conservation and Restoration of the Life statue, fountain, and basin from The City of Jacksonville & The Jacksonville Historic Preservation Commission, Jacksonville, Florida.

We are happy to say that fountain is intact both for our fallen veterans as well as the people of Jacksonville who enjoy Memorial Park each day.

Though the storm clouds of Hurricane Irma have parted, the park still remains in need. You can help the Memorial Park Association rehabilitate the park here.

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