The city of Astoria had hoped to finish the restoration of Uniontown’s Doughboy Monument a year ago, long before Sunday’s 100th anniversary of the end of World War I.
Although delayed by a truck slamming into its eastern flank, the monument’s restoration is on pace to finish in February.
Named Over the Top at Cantigny after the first successful American offensive in World War I, the monument was dedicated in 1926 in honor of Clatsop County veterans. Money was raised through local subscriptions gathered by the American Legion and an association of Uniontown businesses.
The city’s restoration, overseen by former City Planner Rosemary Johnson, involved Clatsop Community College’s historic restoration program, Tongue Point Job Corps Center and local contractors.
“It was a lot of shuffling and coordination to make sure it got done in the right order,” Johnson said.
The city received a state Historic Preservation Office grant for $12,000, along with a local match of $10,000, to restore the Doughboy Monument, which includes the first public bathrooms added to the National Register of Historic Places. But before the work could be finished, a driver plowed his truck into the eastern flank of the structure, setting back the restoration while the city sought insurance reimbursement and assessed any structural damage.
With the help of outgoing City Councilor Cindy Price, the city later received $5,000 from the Samuel S. Johnson Grant Foundation, named after the father of state Sen. Betsy Johnson, D-Scappoose. The grant provided the local match for a second State Historic Preservation Office grant of more than $17,000 to replace the terracotta roof above the restrooms.
Using the nearly $47,000 from the two preservation grants and an estimated $160,000 in insurance payout, the city and partners were able to restore the monument and bathrooms, repair the damage from the crash and re-anchor the bronze statue.
The city still needs to finish work on the terracotta and flat roofs as weather permits, replace railings and finish painting and weatherization, said Jonah Dart-McLean, interim director of the city’s Parks and Recreation Department. The Uniontown Association will help fill planter boxes around the monument, while the city will handle ground landscaping. The city has also installed new outdoor lighting and doors that automatically lock in the evening to help deter vandalism.
“We’ve got a janitorial service contracted out to do other parks bathrooms, and they’ll start servicing these when they’re open as well,” he said. “Hopefully that frequency during the evening and night hours will help.”
Honoring the fallen
At 11 a.m. Sunday, Dart-McLean and Johnson will lay a poppy wreath from the United Kingdom at the foot of the Doughboy Monument. Joining them will be Adjutant Mike Phillips from American Legion Clatsop Post 12 and fellow member Charles Parker, a Vietnam veteran whose great-uncle Freeman Parker died in World War I.
The Bells of Peace, including an American Legion bell at the Doughboy and others at local churches and the Astoria Fire Department, will ring in honor of the end of the war.
At 1 p.m. Sunday in the Astoria Public Library’s flag room, Lucien Swerdloff and John Goodenberger from the college will detail the Doughboy Monument restoration. Library Director Jimmy Pearson, a historian for the American Legion, will speak about U.S. involvement in the war.
Phillips will read the names of the 34 county residents killed in World War I. Parker rings the bell after each name, and poppies will be placed on the names of the fallen.
The American Legion Clatsop Post 12, charted in July 1919, will celebrate its 99th birthday and Veterans Day on Saturday. The events begin with a 10 a.m. brunch. A Veterans Day program at noon will include presentation of colors, the National Anthem, displays, guest speakers, patriotic music and ceremonies for prisoners of war and those missing in action. The American Legion will host a prime rib dinner from 4 to 6 p.m. and music by Theory of Relativity from 6 to 10 p.m.