The last time the Statue of Liberty was fully refurbished, it required $87 million, hundreds of workers and two years to complete. “Lady Liberty” was rededicated in 1984.
Eli Box expects his efforts to spruce up the “Little Lady Liberty” near downtown Columbus will take about six months and come at a far lower cost.
“Right now, I’m not sure what it will cost,” Box said Wednesday. “I need to talk to people who have some expertise and see what they say.”
As for the number of workers the project will require, Box said he intends to do the non-skilled work himself, along with the fund-raising the project requires.
“I’m just getting started with that,” he says. “Right now, I’m trying to identify groups that might want to help, but really, I’ll be trying to get the word out there. I think there might be a lot of people who would be interested in helping because the statue has been part of our city for such a long time.”
Eli’s father, Mark Box, said the research he has done on similar “Little Lady of Liberty” statues shows the costs in the $8,000 to $10,000 range.
“But a lot depends on what has to be done,” Eli notes.
He will have roughly seven months to complete the project on the time-line he has set.
At the moment, the ninth-grader from Early College High School is a committee of one. Box — the grandson of Columbus Ward 3 councilman Charlie Box — kicked off his renovation campaign Tuesday, asking the city council for consent to refurbish the “Little Lady of Liberty” statue that has stood in the median on the intersection of Main Street and Seventh Street since 1950.
The statue, an 8 ½-foot tall copper-sheeted replica of the Statue of Liberty that stands in New York Harbor, is much in need of repair, Eli Box informed the council.
“The wear is showing,” he said. “The granite base needs to be re-grouted and the copper sheets need to be repainted or refurbished.”
For Box, 15, the project is part of his effort to earn his Eagle Scout designation. He is a member of Troop 1, which is sponsored by the Columbus Exchange Club.
“We were sitting around at the Scout hut, brain-storming on projects,” Box said. “One of the adults mentioned that he had been trying to get the statue renovated for a long time, so I thought that would be perfect for my Eagle Scout project.”
The statue is one of approximately 200 that were erected in 39 states as a national Boy Scouts of America project that started as an idea presented by a Scout troop in Kansas City, Missouri. Box said his research showed each statue was produced in Chicago and Boy Scout troops from throughout the country purchased the statues at a cost of $350 plus shipping. The statutes were erected between 1950 and 1952. The Columbus statue was dedicated on Dec. 7, 1950, the ninth anniversary of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor that brought the U.S. Into World War II. It is the only such statue in the state of Mississippi.
Box hopes to have the renovations complete and hold a rededication ceremony on Dec. 7, 2016, 60 years to the date of the statue’s original dedication.
There is much work to be done between now and then, he says.
“I’ve done some research on the statue,” he said, “but I’m really just getting started on the fund-raising and learning about what kind of things the statue needs.”
Anyone wishing to help out with funding the project should contact the Boy Scouts Pushmataha Area Council at 662-328-7228.
Slim Smith is a columnist and feature writer for The Dispatch. His email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.
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