masonry conservation, vernon park

Exciting News!

How we restored Vernon Park’s monuments

by Melissa Romero on April 18, 2018

April 18 is International Day for Monuments and Sites, and there are plenty of them to celebrate throughout Philly’s parks! In Germantown’s Vernon Park, example, there are two monuments and a statue all located within the eight-acre park. In fact, Fairmount Park Conservancy’s team of conservationists recently restored the Pastorious Monument, Battle of Germantown Monument, and the John Wister Statue as part of the Neighborhood Park Stewardship Initiative to restore the monuments and landscape of Vernon Park.

In honor of International Day for Monuments and Sites, let’s take a look at how the Conservancy restored these three important monuments to their original grandeur.

Pastorious Monument

The Pastorius Monument was completed in 1917 by Albert Jaegers (1868-1925) and commemorates Franz Pastorious and the 13 German families who founded Germantown on October 6, 1683. However, the limestone monument wasn’t displayed to the public until after World War I in 1920, due to anti-German sentiment that pervaded the country after the war.

At the start of the conservation, the monument had cracks, fissures, and stains throughout, and showed signs of plant and biological growth. Along with giving the Pastorious monument a good, careful scrub, the Conservancy also repointed the granite steps that it sits upon.

Battle of Germantown

The Battle of Germantown Memorial, also known as “Soldiers’ Monument,” was designed by Philadelphia architect Frank Miles Day and commemorates the Battle of Germantown fought near Vernon Park in 1777. The granite monument was erected on May 16, 1906.

Fortunately, the Battle of Germantown monument was in pretty good condition at the start of the conservation, although there was some graffiti, light corrosion, and biological growth. The conservationists cleaned the monument and its bronze plaques, removed the graffiti, and repointed the Battle of Germantown base and pavers.

John Wister Statue

The Wister sculpture depicts John Wister, a member of the United States Congress who lived the Vernon House until his death in 1883.  Designed by Italian artist Rafaello Romanelli in 1903, the hollow, cast bronze statue sits on a granite pedestal in front of Vernon House.

At the time of conservation, the Wister statue had a blue green patina, and there were signs of graffiti, soiling, and biological growth at its base. Most notably, the cane that the original statue held in its right hand was missing.

The conservationists cleaned and waxed the bronze statue and cleaned the pedestal. They also replicated a model of the old cane, casting three productions of it (in the event that the cane goes missing again!).

To learn more about Fairmount Park Conservancy’s comprehensive preservation, conservation and project management services for historic buildings and sculptures in and around Philadelphia, click here.