For most of human history, war memorials were erected to commemorate great victories. In our modern time, memorials also became important after great human losses were realized. In the U.S., particularly after World War I, commemoration of the human loss took center stage and most communities erected a war memorial for the men and women who had gone to war and not returned.
The Memorial Bridge is one of these memorials dedicated after World War I. The portal monument, located above the entrance to the first truss span on the Portsmouth side, states:
Memorial to the Sailors and Soldiers of New Hampshire who participated in the World War 1917-1919
Over the years, this bronze art work became tarnished from being exposed to the elements. Conservation of these pieces is part of the current Memorial Bridge project. The art was safely removed by professionals from the 1922 bridge, prior to demolition occurring. Each piece is currently under great care by a team of bronze conservators and will be put back onto the new bridge.
How is this all being done?
A team of bronze conservators working with Archer Western Contractors are cleaning, conserving and reinstalling the art back onto the new bridge. One of the first tasks performed was to document and safely remove all the art mounted on the 1922 bridge. The art includes various items such as plaques of different styles and types, a portal monument, and an eagle statue.
The bronze conservators and construction team then built custom art shipping crates on-site, loaded the art and transported the crates to a secure art storage facility. From there, pieces were transported to a laboratory for conservation treatment.
The Archer Western Team, in consultation with the public Advisory Committee, is currently designing a system to retrofit the plaques, portal monument and eagle back onto the new bridge, while honoring the look and feel of their original placement on the 1922 bridge.
The new overhead support assemblage for the art (i.e. bracket frames to be bolted on the bridge) will be largely preassembled on the ground to simplify and shorten the time for reinstallation. This new mounting framework is both structurally sound and adheres to accepted preservation standards.