Monumental Cleaning for the “Bellringers” of Herald Square
August 16th, 2011, 11:53 am
In June, annual maintenance on the James Gordon Bennett Monument (better known as the Bellringers) in Herald Square, took place. The larger than life size, multi-figure monument by the French sculptor Jean-Anton Carles, was restored through the Municipal Art Society’s Adopt-A-Monument program in 1989 and then again in 2007, with a grant from the George Trescher Monument Fund. The monument, one of the city’s great landmarks, consists of a 40-foot-tall Italianate granite structure with flanking Corinthian pilasters. The bronze sculptural group—featuring the heroic figure of Minerva, Greek goddess of wisdom, and two muscular blacksmiths who swivel and appear to strike a large bronze bell—occupies the central niche. Other distinctive features are the two large clocks on the south and north façade and two bronze owls on the parapet. To stage the treatment of the cleaning, a 30 foot articulated boom lift, generously supplied by 34th Street Partnership, was used. Cameron Wilson, who conserved the monument in 2007, and his fine crew of four, washed the bronze elements with water and a mild detergent. Soft nylon scrub brushes removed dirt and other biological material. The wax coating on the bronzes was replenished with paste wax and hand buffed with cotton cloths. The granite base was scrubbed with water and a gentle liquid soap. New York City’s Clock Master Marvin Schneider, a treasured landmark himself, meticulously maintains the Herald Square clock assuring the synchronicity of the figures striking the clock bell at the exact time. To the delight of the thousands who pass this busy mid-town crossroads, the rich history of the Bellringers continues to be vividly present thanks to the MAS Adopt-A-Monument program.