Statue

The Boy in Blue statue sat atop a fountain in Lincoln Park in Mankato from 1893 until 1911.

The Boy in Blue statue stood proudly in Lincoln Park from 1893 until the neglected statue to Civil War veterans was done in by a storm in 1911.

Bryce Stenzel hopes the community will get behind an effort to re-create the bronze statue and large fountain base.

“It’s about honoring the history of our Civil War veterans. It’s important to remember,” said Stenzel, part of the Mankato Area Community Band, which will host a patriotic concert in the park Tuesday evening.

But moving the project from idea to implementation is likely some time off.

Drew Campbell, a Blue Earth County commissioner who is also the president of the Lincoln Neighborhood Association, said a lot of players have to come on board to make the effort — which could cost some $100,000 — work.

“I think there’s some interest in possibly doing it, but it’s a big project.”

Campbell said the city would have to be on board because it owns the park and would likely be responsible for long-term maintenance of the fountain and statue. He said formal talks with the county Historical Society  also would be necessary.

“I think it could happen, but it’s going to take time to get community buy-in, the city, historical society, the neighborhood. But I appreciate Bryce’s vigor and participation.”

Campbell said the neighborhood association will discuss the idea at a future meeting.

Stenzel, who is best known locally for his historical re-enactments of Abraham Lincoln, led a successful effort to put a small commemorative plaque in the park showing a photo of the statue and describing its history.

In recent years he’s done research on the statue.

He said the original was apparently not maintained and deteriorated from corrosion until it was toppled in a storm. He’s been unable to find any blueprint of the original or a description of its exact dimensions.

From some surviving photos of the sculpture, Stenzel said it appeared to be imposing. “It may have to be scaled down some to fit the park.”

He presumes the statue was likely made out East and shipped here.

It was paid for and erected by the ladies auxiliary of the Grand Army of the Republic, a politically and socially powerful group formed by Union Army veterans.

Stenzel tracked down a sculptor, Alan Gibson of Cape Girardeau, Mo., who estimated a new sculpture would cost $29,500.

“Cape Girardeau has a sculpture similar to the one that graced Lincoln Park. (Gibson) was responsible for restoring theirs,” Stenzel said.

The cost of the sculpture would not include the base and fountain.

Stenzel said that if the effort gains support and is undertaken, backers would likely seek grants as well as donations and in-kind support.

Stenzel said he’s received good feedback on the idea so far. “I guess I’d say I’m cautiously optimistic.”

And Stenzel figures anniversary dates are aligned for people to come together behind the effort: “The sculpture disappeared 100 years ago and it’s 150 years since the Civil War.”

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