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General Henry Warner Slocum in Brooklyn’s Grand Army Plaza


The dashing figure of the Civil War hero, General Henry Warner Slocum (1905) by Frederick MacMonnies, stands on a prancing charger grandly gesturing to his troops in the tradition of equestrian military portraits. The stylish piece with its textured surfaces evokes the Beaux-Arts style. Its sense of grandeur is heightened by the elevated site at Plaza Street East and Grand Army Plaza. Prior to 1989 and its restoration under the Adopt-A-Monument program, the statue’s fate had been compromised. Victimized not only by the corrosive atmosphere but also vandals, the General’s sword was missing along with four large circular medallions on its base. Graffiti disfigured the base. All of this was replaced and the General looked splendid.

However, because of the monument’s position on a hill it has been one of the most challenging monuments in the Adopt program  to maintain annually. Scaffolding must be assembled to do it properly. This year, the MAS contracted the NYC Parks Department’s Arts and Antiquities to undertake a full maintenance which included stripping the bronze of previous failed wax by  washing it with Orvus, an anionic detergent and hot pressured water, drying it, and heating the bronze with a propane torch to receive an application of clear petroleum based wax. This treatment is called “hot wax.” Following this an additional protective coating of Butcher’s Past Wax was applied in small amounts using natural brushes. Buffing it afterwards provides a durable and soft sheen. During the above bronze treatment, the base was carefully protected.  Then graffiti was removed, the stone washed, the joints raked and repointed and the decorative bronze medallions, waxed.  In the fall and winter Prospect Park Alliance kindly promises to prune back the berm so that General Slocum will be proudly visible from all views.

General Slocum, GAP, #1454, Slocum detail, 1, after conservation, 8.19.13, J. Kuhn