With the help of private insurance and public grants, the base of the Doughboy Monument in Uniontown will likely be renovated in time for the 100th anniversary of the end of World War I on Nov. 11, 2018.
The statue, named Over the Top at Cantigny after the first major American offensive in World War I, was dedicated in 1926 in honor of Clatsop County veterans.
The bronze doughboy clutching a rifle was designed by famed World War I monument sculptor John Paulding and installed atop an ornamental cement base designed by local architect Charles T. Diamond.
The Astoria Victory Monument was paid for with money raised by the American Legion and an association of businesses in Uniontown. The last major renovation was in July 2006 for the 80th anniversary of its dedication. The new restoration will include two projects, one funded by government and the other by happenstance.
A truck crashed into the statue in August, breaking off light poles, cracking concrete edges on the base and closing the eastern bathroom underneath. The repairs to the portion damaged by the truck will be paid for by either the driver’s or the city’s insurance, said Angela Cosby, director of the Astoria Parks and Recreation Department.
Overseeing the restoration is Rosemary Johnson, a former city planner.
“One of the planters was destroyed, so that will be replaced,” she said. “Two of the light poles on the east side were damaged by the wreck, so they’ll need to be reconstructed. We still need to have an analysis of the connection of the bronze monument to the base.”
The city had already received a $12,625 Veterans and War Memorials Grant from the State Historic Preservation Office to pay for improvements to the western side of the statue, including the western bathroom — undamaged by the crash but closed for years and in need of restoration.
Utility work will be done by contractors. Clatsop Community College’s Historic Preservation and Restoration program will document conditions of the monument and restore the plaster on the west side of the base starting this winter, said instructor Lucien Swerdloff.
“We’re also going to refurbish the flagpole,” he said. “That has rust, and the connections to the ground need to be redone.”
The crash damage has already pushed back the grant-funded work, some of which will be delayed until spring, Cosby said, but the city hopes to finish the restoration within a year.
Astoria’s Doughboy Monument is one of many around the country undergoing repairs in advance of the centennial of the end of World War I. A monument in Raymond, Washington, is one of 50 so far to receive a matching grant for restoration from the World War I Centennial Commission’s 100 Cities/100 Memorials program.
Astoria’s monument was entered into the National Register of Historic Places in 1984, including the first public bathrooms added to the list. The bronze doughboy was last refurbished in 1991 using crushed walnut shells and hot wax. It is not part of the new project.
Mike Phillips, president of the American Legion’s Clatsop Post 12, said the group hopes by next summer to install a new concrete monument near the Doughboy listing the names of the 34 county soldiers lost in the war, along with the poem “In Flanders Fields,” by John McCrae.
The proposed monument will have to go through the city’s Parks Advisory Board and ultimately be decided by the City Council, Cosby said.
The monument would be about 3 to 4 feet wide and 3 feet high and also have the names of those who served on the other side, Phillips said. He hopes it will complete the Doughboy Monument and help remind people of those who served in World War I.
Frank Buckles, who died at 110 in 2011 in West Virginia, was the last surviving U.S. World War I veteran.
“A lot of people don’t even realize that they have family members that made the ultimate sacrifice,” Phillips said. “I think it’s only right to memorialize our veterans and their families.”