Minute Man, Doughboy: New Looks For Old Heroes

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.

(Photo/Andrew Colabella)

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.

(Photo/Jamie Klein)

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.

(Photo/Andrew Colabella)

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!)

21 responses to “Minute Man, Doughboy: New Looks For Old Heroes

  1. Morley Boyd

    Nice work, Andrew! I’m kind of gobsmacked that the town simply discarded that fabulous, vintage Public Notice board. I’ve always admired the piece – it probably came over to 110 Myrtle from the old town Hall and is beautifully made. Thank you for rescuing and restoring it!

  2. Phillip Perri

    Amazing and thankless work usually. Just FYI, in case anyone is looking for one, I believe it’s an “acetylene torch”. So named because it uses acetylene as fuel.

  3. Michael Elliot

    Mr. Colabella is another one of our selfless town treasures. Always looking out to improve our town. His garden at the corner of Hillspoint and Greens Farms Roads is another example. Always in bloom! I have suggested this before but I would like to mention again how “shabby” the grounds around the Minute Man look and all the time. I am thinking of getting Parks and Rec (if that is the proper conduit) to pour concrete in this area, and embed faux (or real) cannon balls into the pour. This would always look awesome and never need maintenance if properly reinforced.

    • Andrew Colabella

      Hi Mr. Elliot! I believe we met at the Memorial Day.

      So far, I have planted 100 tulips and this fall, 400 more are being planted!

      End of august, beginning of September, I have recruited Mike West the Parks Superintendent to add topsoil and dress it with seed and hay.

      I hope this will be enough and that it will take. This is all volunteer by the way so if you want to join me, email me!

  4. Kathie Bennewitz

    The members of the Westport Arts Advisory Committee could not be more delighted to see the public appreciation and awareness of the recent care and treatment of both the Minute Man and Doughboy monuments, which we intentionally planned to have completed by the July 4th weekend. Francis Miller of ConserveArt in Hamden has been contracted by the town through our committee, to clean and wax these public sculptures and important artworks, which is done every 5-7 years. He has worked on each of them for decades, since he started his career in conservation, and every time is up close on the ladder, with high power water hoses and waxing tools in hand, he appreciates every detail of their artistry and history to Westport, as do we looking “up” upon them today as if they were just cast. Thank you for this lovely coverage Dan and Andrew.

  5. Mark Yurkiw

    I think you meant….
    Acetylene Torch- a torch using acetylene gas

  6. Richard Bortolot

    I would love to know what jackass at Town Hall threw the Public Notice board in the dumpster.

  7. Jack Whittle

    Andrew is most definitely a Town(ie) treasure 😉

    And he REALLY shines tonight – on the night of the Town fireworks – just look for the very fit guy in the full patriotic, American flag themed outfit!

  8. Andrew Colabella

    I am not sure who was going to throw it out, but it weighs over 100 pounds with the door.

    All that matters is that it’s back where it belongs, it’s ready for another 70 years, and I will be adding a 21st century touch to it shortly.

    I will be at the lifeguard shack tonight volunteering with PAL, hope to see everyone down there tonight.

  9. Jack Backiel

    In 3 years and 362 days, I’ll be 80 years old! I feel as old as the doughboy! Anyway, wasn’t Doughboy across from the Clam Box on that grassy area? Why was it moved?

    • Eric Buchroeder

      Jack, they moved it with the Honor Roll of WWII vets to the green in front of the town hall (the former Bedford El). The Post Rd is so over commercialized I think they absolutely made the right decision. It would be totally out of place if they’d left it where it was.

    • Jack Backiel

      Phil, First of all, use your real name. Secondly, you need to develop a sense of humor. (Tomorrow I’ll be 80 in 3 years and 361 days.) Thanks, Eric.for clearing that up.

  10. Jack Backiel

    Thanks, Eric, for explaining that. Actually, Dan might have had a posting about that once. I vaguely remember something about it now.

    • Morley Boyd

      Does anyone remember the name of the park on the Post Road where the Doughboy statue was originally located (by the Clambox)? The park definitely had a formal name. I just can’t seem to recall it…

  11. Jack Backiel

    Veterans Green maybe?