FOXBORO - The Civil War statue atop Memorial Hall is a wounded warrior.

The 9-foot, 2-inch wooden soldier is showing signs of cracks and discoloration, and the historical commission says it is in need of rehabilitation - maybe surgery.

A series of closeup photographs with a powerful lens has confirmed the soldier is showing wear, and needs a more detailed inspection by a restoration expert.

Those plans are under way. Upon further inspection, a decision will be made as to what repairs are in order, and whether the statue will have to be removed to make it whole again.

The longtime sentinel will be evaluated by the same company that carved it in 1962.

Total costs could top $20,000, and the historical commission is soliciting funds for the undertaking.

Some money has already been secured.

The historical commission has won and matched a $5,000 state Civil War Preservation grant, and Girl Scout Mackenzie Anderson, at work on a project for her Gold Award, successfully lobbied for a $1,000 grant from the Foxboro Rotary Club.

The soldier is not the first to gaze over Foxboro Common.

And mere restoration will total considerably more than his predecessor originally cost.

The original statue was carved by sculptor Samuel Freeman Pratt, a Civil War veteran.

Pratt, himself, was the model for the statue, dressing in uniform and having his picture taken from many angles.

The cost was $500, plus $10 for delivery and $4.37 for the bolts to attach it to the building.

Then in 1957, police Officer Frederick W. Pettee noticed sparks rising from the statue while on one of his patrols.

It turned out cracks that had developed over the years were filled in with sawdust soaked in linseed oil. The result was spontaneous combustion.

The statue was repaired on its pedestal at least once in 1959, but that effort only showed the need for a more extensive restoration - even replacement.

The town was thrust into controversy: Repair or replace? Wood, bronze, aluminum, marble or granite?

Many thought a simple patch would work, and a full replacement was a waste of money. Estimates were evaluated, with the final decision being a wooden statue. The beauty of the wood - and the lighter weight - were the deciding factors.

When the original statue was taken down in September 1961, it broke into pieces. Years of rot and wasp infestation had left it a shell of its former self.

Sculptor Charles Pizzano of Medford was chosen to create the new sentry.

The statue was carved from blocks of sugar pine glued together to reach the 9-foot 2-inch height.

The cost was $6,000, considerably more than the approximately $500 for the original, but not bad for almost 100 years later.

The base was made in Florida of southern pine and shipped to Medford. The entire process took about 1 1/2 years.

The new statue was picked up and delivered by town equipment on Nov. 10, 1962, and unveiled in time for Veteran's Day. More than 500 people turned out for a look before the soldier was hoisted atop its pedestal.

In 1963, cracks, swelling and delamination were noticed. Pizzano determined the problems were caused by water that had worked its way into holes where the statue was bolted down.

The soldier was taken down and returned to the sculptor's workshop.

By 1985, time had again taken its toll and more repairs were necessary. A crane and operator were brought in from Providence to lower the sentry once more.

On June 15, 1987, it was reinstalled on the roof, where it has remained since.

To contribute to the statue preservation effort, send donations to: The Foxborough Historical Society, PO Box 450, Foxboro, MA 02035.

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