For over 100 years, Westport’s Minute Man has crouched, alertly and patriotically, near the entrance to Compo Beach.
He’s our beloved town symbol. And these days, he looks better than ever.
His dark metal shines. His lines are smooth. Even his historical plaque has been restored to its old glory.
Representative Town Meeting member and Staples High School graduate Andrew Colabella was intrigued by the project. He’d seen an “06880” of a man working alone, power washing the statue.
He wanted to learn more. Mike West, Parks & Recreation Department parks superintendent, told Andrew the man’s name is Francis Miller. He’s repaired and restored artwork since 1991.
On Monday, Andrew spotted Francis working on Veterans Green, across from Town Hall.
Andrew is fascinated with hands-on, labor intensive niche work, like welding and metal restoration.
He asked Francis how he restored both the Minute Man and doughboy.
He heats the metal with an acetylene torch, burning off foreign material. As it cools, he applies a mixture of waxes he made himself (it’s been approved by the National Parks Service and Conservation Department).
Francis uses a shoe polish brush that gets into the metal, but leaves no striations, grooves or runs. The waxes seal and bond to the metal.
Veterans Green doughboy. (Photo/Andrew Colabella)
Andrew’s questions were not idle ones. He recently completed his own metal restoration project just a few yards away.
He’d found the old, discarded solid brass “Public Notice” board in a dumpster.
Andrew kept the original imperfections and marks, dating back over 70 years. It’s now been re-hung in front of Town Hall — a great addition to the “new” front entrance.
Andrew Colabella’s restored Public Notice board, before installation outside Town Hall.
Andrew is impressed by Francis Miller’s restoration work. He hopes the rest of Westport will be too.
So as you head to the fireworks tonight — or any other time you’re near Compo Beach or Veterans Green — check out our newly restored Minute Man and doughoy.
And don’t forget the new Public Notice board either. It too is a beauty.
(“06880” is honored to honor Westport’s history. Please consider supporting the work we do. Just click here to contribute. Thank you!)