From Jasper Collier
The Lincoln statue commissioned for the ellipse in front of the Cottage came one step nearer to completion when representatives from StudioEIS met on Friday, August 1st to discuss placement of the sculpture with the landscape architects. The sculptors from StudioEIS designed the statue to reflect a natural and welcoming Lincoln – the Lincoln one might have encountered on a summer visit to the Cottage in the early 1860s. As part of the August 1st survey, the studio constructed a full size foam board image of the statue allowing for the first glimpse as to what the final product will look like in the landscape.
Unfortunately, even after the new Lincoln statue has been painstakingly sculpted and cast in bronze, a new set of obstacles will have to be overcome before it can be placed in its final home on the Cottage ellipse. Originally, for example, the statue was to be placed directly on the grass, the platform buried deep below, to give visitors the impression that Lincoln still walks the grounds of the Soldiers’ Home today. However, StudioEIS has found that their other recent commissions applied level with the ground result in unsightly patches of dead grass near the statues’ feet. This problem will be solved at the Cottage by the construction of an oval platform constructed flush with the ground using period brick, onto which the statue will be placed. This solution solves the problem of grass maintenance issues while maintaining the eye-level view desired by the staff at President Lincoln’s Cottage.
Another challenge will be monitoring the excavation. The excavation for the base of the sculpture will require digging to a depth of five feet, increasing the likelihood of running into archaeological features. As such, the initial phase of the construction will need to be monitored by an archaeologist. Additionally, the landscape architect has had to survey the terrain to ensure that water will drain properly around the newly constructed brick platform that will float on ground level. Finally, the statue as well as material and machines required for its installation will have to be brought over the path around the ellipse. The path is made of a special packed porous material called Staylok which could potentially be damaged if appropriate caution is not exercised during installation.
Despite these challenges, the new Lincoln statue will be a welcome addition to President Lincoln’s Cottage and has already been praised as a unique addition to the realm of Lincoln sculpture. After mid-November, visitors will be greeted as guests of honor by Abe himself, as he embarks on or returns from his daily commute.