The Free Press, Mankato, MN

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March 3, 2012

Boy in Blue statue drive gets big boost

Addition of fountain requires city support

MANKATO — An effort to recreate a Civil War statue in Lincoln Park got a $10,000 boost.

The Rochester-based Carl & Verna Schmidt Foundation provided the grant to be used toward the first phase of the project — commissioning the artist for the statue.

The Boy in Blue Civil War memorial stood in Lincoln Park from 1893 until it was done in by a storm in 1911.

Last summer, during the start of the 150th anniversary of the Civil War, historian Bryce Stenzel began an effort to re-create the bronze statue and large fountain base.

“The grant is very helpful, we appreciate it. It should give us a boost,” said Stenzel, who chairs the Boy in Blue Memorial Project Committee.

The group has raised about $1,400 through small fundraisers so far.

Stenzel said $15,000 is needed to commission Alan Gibson, a Cape Girardeau, Mo., sculptor who’s done similar projects. They’d need to pay him another $15,000 to cover the cost of producing the piece.

But the total cost of the project, including a base and pool and possibly fountain, would be about $100,000.

Stenzel met with the Mankato City Council at a recent work session to seek city support for taking over and maintaining the memorial if it is built. The statue itself would require relatively little maintenance, but a fountain would be more burdensome.

City Manager Pat Hentges estimated the cost of maintaining a fountain at $1,200 to $1,500 a year, given the 50 or so staff hours required. He said it would spread existing staff more thinly and Councilwoman Tamra Rovney agreed, “so while it doesn’t sound like a lot, it’s the staff time.”

Mayor Eric Anderson agreed to tell Stenzel at one of the council’s March meetings if it would support a fountain.

The committee is doing a fundraising event from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. March 24 at the Blue Earth County Historical Society. The Civil War symposium will feature several speakers, living history and other events. Cost is $25 if registered by March 15 (includes lunch), or $20 at the door without lunch.

Visit www.boyinblue.org for more information.

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