It's a marble testament to the valor of Pennsylvanians who fought in the War with Mexico (1846-48).
Harrisburg's 64-foot-high Mexican War Monument pays tribute to Pennsylvanians like Thomas Lindsay, a private in the Philadelphia Light Guards. Lindsay endured hunger, yellow fever, shot, shell and the death of friends before ultimately winning through in the fierce Battle for Cerro Gordo.
Those stories are symbolized in the monument's icons of sword, flag, cannon, wreath, eagles and more.
Commissioned in 1858 for $30,000, the monument boasts a 10-foot-high sword-bearing statue of Victory atop the Corinthian capital of a 31-foot fluted column, 3 feet in diameter. The statue is Carrara marble. The marble capital, column and 17-foot- high base they rest on were quarried in Lee, Mass. They in turn sit on a granite base. The marble base bears Carrara marble sculptures of eagles at each of its four corners.
Presiding over a grassy park in the center of the state's capitol complex, the monument is viewed by hundreds of thousands of people annually.
By 2002 the monument itself was in a war -- against time and the elements.
"It was in bad shape," said Joe Sembrat, of Conservation Solutions, District Heights, Md. Mr. Sembrat, project conservator, explained that the aged monument needed extensive cleaning, repointing, dutchman repair, consolidation of sugaring marble -- and even paint-stripping.
Recruited for the job by Pennsylvania's Capitol Preservation Committee, Conservation Solutions, with contractor C.A. Lindman, Jessup, Md., worked to restore the monument through summer 2002.
After cleaning, including use of Sure Klean® Fast Acting Stripper to take white paint off Victory and the capital, workers set about stabilization.
Some of the marble had to be patched, and other parts replaced. All of it needed repointing. Much of the marble was disaggregating. The Conservation Solutions crew stopped the decay by applying Conservare® HCT (Hydroxylating Conversion Treatment). The waterborne treatment creates a microscopic "conversion layer" on the marble, which strengthens the stone. The layer doesn't affect appearance or breathability.
Though not a water repellent, HCT significantly increases marble and limestone resistance to weathering, acid rain and biological staining.
Where further strengthening was needed -- on the eagles, shaft, capital and Victory, workers followed HCT with Conservare® OH100 Consolidation Treatment. OH100 works by replacing the stone's natural binding material lost to time and weather.
Though designed for siliceous stones like granite and sandstone, OH100 strengthens carbonates -- limestones and marbles -- treated with HCT.
"The HCT and OH100 made quite a difference," commented the Committee's preservation project manager, Barbara Strobridge. "The drum of the capital, for instance, showed almost immediate improvement."
The Mexican War Monument is the latest in a long line of successful Capitol Preservation Committee projects, explained Ruthann Kemper, the committee's executive director. Their goal, she said, is to have all the capitol complex's historic elements restored, inside and out, by the capitol building's 100th birthday in 2006.
Meanwhile, also ready for another century, Pennsylvania's restored Mexican War Monument now testifies to a new victory - this one over time and weather.