Mayor Luke Ravenstahl, along with Veterans and members of the community, celebrated the completed conservation of Artist Frank Vittor's World War II Memorial (1949), in an unveiling ceremony this afternoon at Morrow Triangle in the East End. The memorial commemorates the 5,000 men and women of the Eighth Ward who served in the war and reflects Mayor Ravenstahl's commitment to conserve monuments that represent America's rich history, identity and culture.
"We are proud to honor our Veterans with this magnificent memorial displaying America's rich history and extremely pleased that the conservation is finally complete," said Mayor Ravenstahl. "We thank and commend our partners, the Office of Public Art and the Intermuseum Conservation Association, for their commitment to this project and their outstanding work. Thanks to the cooperative efforts of Allegheny City Electric, Duquesne Light and Public Works, the lighting at the monument has been installed and is operational."
The lights will operate off of a photocell and automatically come on around the same time as the surrounding street lights.
Bloomfield Citizens Council President Janet Cercone Scullion commented, "The legacy of famed sculptor Frank Vittor has reached into the 21st century, carrying with it the heart and soul of the Bloomfield residents who contributed the finances and "sweat equity" that made the 8th Ward Honor Roll a dream come true! The men and women who have served our country will never be forgotten."
The memorial, originally dedicated on Flag Day in 1949, stood wrapped in heavy brown paper for more than a year. Funds were needed to complete the sculpture and pay off old debt before it could be dedicated. Former Mayor David L. Lawrence formed a committee to raise the remaining $5,000 balance on the $22,000 project.
Over the years, the sculpture made of limestone with attached bronze plaques, suffered erosion and damage to the stone's surface. The process to conserve the memorial began in January, with masons onsite in April. Funds were provided by the City, with costs for the assessment study and conservation at totaling approximately $20,000 dollars.
As a result of this previous damage, Intermuseum Conservation Association completed the conservation using gentle cleaning techniques. No acidic cleaning products or abrasives were used as they would further damage the already deteriorated stone. Many of the green biological stains caused by lichens and slime moulds were removed using biological agents and poultices. The older tuck pointing was removed and replaced with mortar matching the original color and thickness.
In order to maintain the sculpture, the Intermuseum Conservation Association has provided the City with detailed maintenance instructions for the stone and bronze elements of the monument, ensuring the monument will remain in excellent condition for many years.
About the Artist
Frank Vittor, a sculptor from Mozzato, Italy came to the United States in 1906. He studied under Augustus Saint-Gaudens for several years and was a teacher of sculpture at Cooper Union in New York. In 1917 he accompanied his wife to visit her family in Pittsburgh and brought along eighty small bronzes to display at a local gallery. Dr. John Brashear, noted scientist and educator, admired Vittor's work and convinced him to move to Pittsburgh.
After relocating to Pittsburgh, Vittor taught sculpture at Carnegie Institute of Technology and the Carnegie Museum. He also founded Pittsburgh's Society of Sculptors. During his career, he completed monuments to Dr. Brashear, George Washington, and Honus Wagner, as well as over fifty war memorials and fountains. Some of his other work included busts of Calvin Coolidge, Woodrow Wilson, and Theodore Roosevelt that were completed during their lifetimes.
About the Process
The process performed on Vittor's work is a conservation, not a restoration. The conservation of a work cleans and maintains the integrity of the piece in its current condition thereby reflecting the natural wear over the ages, but keeping as much of the original as possible. Restoration implies the replacement of elements with brand new materials to mimic the original.
Saturday, May 26, 2007
Office of Mayor Luke Ravenstahl
512 City County Building | 414 Grant Street
Pittsburgh, PA 15219
telephone: 412-255-2626 | facsimile: 412-255-2687