Sculpture returns to Indianapolis monument’s top

The landmark Soldiers and Sailors Monument in the heart of downtown Indianapolis is complete again.

A crane hoisted the 38-foot-tall bronze sculpture named Victory more than 250 feet to the monument's top Monday morning after gusty winds delayed the work last week. The crane began lifting the sculpture shortly after daybreak and soon was lowering it inside scaffolding atop the monument.

Indiana War Memorials Commission director Stewart Goodwin said crews would need about six hours to secure the statue in place.

"We have to actually slide her down into the scaffolding which only has four inches on each side," Goodwin told WTHR-TV. "So when you think about a 21,000-pound statue that is sliding down into that small of a hole, it's really like threading a needle."

Problems with the 118-year-old sculpture were noticed in 2009 when the monument's observation deck was being repaired. Workers found its joints had corroded or loosened over time and opened up, letting water inside and weakening the structure.

The sculpture was taken down in April and dismantled for a $1.5 million repair job.

The work will continue for restorer and sculptor Giorgio Gikas. He and an assistant will spend the next two weeks on the scaffolding that surrounds the statue, applying a bronze finisher to restore the golden-brown color and a clear lacquer and a wax as weather coating.

"I was pretty high up in New York to restore some windows on a high rise a few years ago," Gikas told The Indianapolis Star. "But never this high for a sculpture."

The limestone tower was completed in 1902 as a monument to Indiana's veterans, including more than 200,000 who served in Union forces during the Civil War.

Dozens of people snapped photographs while the sculpture was lifted into the sky over Monument Circle.

"This is history in the making, something we'll never see again in our lifetime," said Clara Lacy, 57, of Indianapolis.

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