Bangor’s Bunyan statue faces unexpected costs

Posted May 15, 2009, at 8:42 p.m.

BANGOR, Maine — Paul Bunyan is getting to be an expensive date for the city of Bangor.

Much-needed renovations and repairs to the city’s famed lumberjack statue are under way and already there have been some unexpected complications.

Volunteers who have surveyed the statue and its six-foot stone-supported base discovered significant water damage that will need to be remedied. Cost estimates are about $7,000, which fly in the face of the city’s hopes to keep Bunyan’s renovations inexpensive.

“All the work that has been done so far has been donated,” said Jeanne Savoy, a member of the Paul Bunyan Restoration Committee. “We hope that will continue.”

The recent discovery deals with stones that support the cement base of the 37-foot statue. While the stones can be reused, Savoy said, water has deteriorated their connection to the actual base. It will take some effort to remove them, reappoint them and attach them securely to the base.

“The base is really pathetic,” Savoy said. “This was a little unexpected.”

Bunyan, one of Bangor’s most-photographed landmarks, turned 50 years old this February, but had not been touched up in more than 10 years. Most agreed he was overdue for some TLC.

The City Council agreed to donate a small amount of money to ensure the project is successful, but the rest has come from private donations, both in money and in services.

Already, volunteers and members of the restoration committee have spent several hours repairing some the statue’s fiberglass. On Friday, Bunyan’s broken peavey hook was reattached. Early next month, a crew will give him a fresh coat of paint and more volunteers will re-landscape the area surrounding the statue.

“Earlier this month, a maintenance crew did an assessment of the interior and it’s in incredibly great shape,” Bangor Parks and Recreation Director Tracy Willette. “The frame had not deteriorated, which had been a concern.”

The Bunyan statue was created 50 years ago to coincide with the city’s 125th birthday celebration. Local artist J. Norman Martin, who was working for a local advertising agency at the time, agreed to sculpt a model for the statue. His 22-inch model was the template for the 31-foot statue that has graced Bass Park ever since.

Savoy said despite the latest setback she has been pleased with the support of her group’s efforts.

“Our hope is to get it all done now, while people are thinking about Paul,” Savoy said. “It would be too bad if we got all this way and couldn’t fix the base.”

erussell@bangordailynews.net

990-8167

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