Wednesday, February 27, 2013
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Scale model of new Abraham Lincoln statue presented

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[February 27, 2013]  Abraham Lincoln was the center of attention on Monday evening at the Logan County Genealogical & Historical Society center. The Abraham Lincoln Statue Committee, supported by the historical society, is focused on a project to create a life-sized image of Abraham Lincoln to be placed on the Logan County Courthouse square.

The evening offered a first view of what the Lincoln statue will look like. Sculptor David Seagraves traveled to Lincoln from his home in Elizabeth, in northwest Illinois, with an 18-inch tall scale model.

Seagraves is well known in Lincoln. He helped repair the Indian mother statue that sits on the courthouse lawn, and he was the sculptor of the Civil War soldier that stands atop the obelisk on the Broadway and South Kickapoo side of the courthouse.

This latest project is to create a life-size statue of Abraham Lincoln to commemorate his visit to his namesake town on Oct. 16, 1858. Lincoln was then campaigning for the United States Senate.

Seagraves brought his one-quarter-scale model so that members of the public could see what the finished statue will look like. The full-size statue will be constructed of bronze.

The scale model, which will be on display at 114 N. Chicago, is of man-made clay with a metal internal frame. When the full-size statue is completed, it will be sited on the courthouse square, near the intersection of Pulaski and South Kickapoo streets.

Seagraves sculpted the scale model using a print that shows the event. "The larger one will have more detail," he said.

While members of the public, Lincoln Mayor Keith Snyder and the Abraham Lincoln Statue Committee looked on, Seagraves made tiny adjustments to the statue, which had just endured a 150-mile trip by car. The clay was still very pliable and the statue had been jostled during the trip. Seagraves wanted to ensure this unveiling was perfect.

When he is ready to start on the full-size rendering, he first will construct an aluminum frame onto which he will mold the clay-like substance he used on the scale model. With the statue in a standing position, illuminated by lights that create a shadow-free environment, Seagraves will go to work creating this work of art. The sculptor wants his finished piece to be so detailed and dynamic that one technique he uses is to dress a manikin in clothes similar to what Lincoln would have worn. This will allow him to see the drape of the clothing so that he can create the folds and creases to perfection on the finished statue.

When Seagraves is finished with the clay statue, it will be shipped to a foundry in Mount Morris for the final casting in bronze, an alloy made mostly of copper and silicon metal.

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Seagraves grimaced when he described the process of casting it. "They will cut my work into pieces to make the mold for the bronze casting," he said. "They can't do it with the statue in one piece."

After the individual parts of the statue are cast, the final assembly can begin. Some welding will be required, but the signs of welding will be removed so that the statue will appear seamless. When finished, a process taking at least two months, it will weigh approximately 500 pounds. The final step will be to apply a patina to the statue to give it the correct color.

The Abraham Lincoln Statue Committee is hard at work raising the $48,000 needed for this project.

Bill Donath, president of the Logan County Genealogical & Historical Society, has applied for three grants.

Members of the committee are speaking at local service organizations. They have worked as servers at Culver's to raise money. Area schools have been contacted and asked for help.

All of the mayors of Logan County communities have been contacted in order to make this a countywide project.

The committee welcomes donations of any amount. "We don't care if it is a dollar," Roger Matson explained. "We want people to feel they are a part of history."

In 1853, the town of Lincoln was founded and given its name, the name of one of the founding partners, who later would be called Mr. President.

In 1858 while campaigning for the Senate, Abraham Lincoln stopped by to speak from the Logan County Courthouse steps to thousands of Logan County residents. Many of those attending had to travel for hours on barely passable roads to get to Lincoln to hear him. This historic moment in the history of the town of Lincoln will be captured for all time, thanks to the dedication and hard work of the Abraham Lincoln Statue Committee, and the genius of sculptor David Seagraves.


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