Monday, January 01, 2001

Monument restored, ready for another century

By Randy McNutt
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        HAMILTON — When the Soldiers, Sailors and Pioneers Monument reopens Tuesday, it will be seen with a whole new light.

        This month, Old World Restorations of Cincinnati refurbished four of the building's large art glass windows, and a local historian produced a documentary video about the site.

        The building, at Monument Avenue and High Street downtown, was built about 1900 to honor Butler County's veterans and pioneers.

        Its unusual architecture — with a large bronze Civil War soldier on top — sets it apart from the rest of the downtown.

        Time hasn't slowed interest in the historic monument, also known as the Memorial Building and operated by Butler County.

Honoring the past
               Inside, soldiers' and pioneers' names are inscribed on the marble walls. The rest of the place is set up as a museum.

        On the second floor, two windows honor the contribution of women during the Civil War.

        The window facing High Street shows nurses caring for soldiers; the window facing the Great Miami depicts women and children rolling bandages and making lint for the armed services.

        Both windows were among the ones restored.

        Mary Harlan, curator until her resignation last week, said the windows were made by the Erkins Art Glass Window Co. of Cincinnati about 1904.

        “The windows were restored on the inside only,” she said.

        “They are wonderful pieces of art.”

        A crew of five people from Old World Restorations spent three weeks working on the windows, said Dennis Schoeny, head conservator. “In what they depict, they are probably pretty unique,” he said. “The images were arrived at by painting and firing the glass.

        “For us, the scaffolding was challenging. It was all done on site. The windows will transmit light much better now, and structurally they're in pretty good shape.”

        He said his crew members had to repaint many of the individual pieces of glass in the massive windows.

        Cincinnati had many stained-glass workers by the early 1800s, he said.

        “About every construction company had them,” he said.

        While the Memorial Building's windows were being restored, its past was being depicted by Hamilton historian James Blount.

History on video
               He produced a documentary, Hamilton, Ohio Vignettes: Soldiers, Sailors and Pioneers Monument, made with AVI-Digital and paid for by the Hamilton Community Foundation, Butler County commissioners and the Michael J. “Mickey” Colligan Fund.

        It is the first in a series of videos about local historical sites. The second will be about the county's covered bridges.

        Ms. Harlan performed her last official duties on Dec. 28. She said her successor will be Don Shollenbarger, a retired Butler County employee.


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