- The Washington Times - Wednesday, August 4, 2004

RICHMOND (AP) — Birds have used his head as a toilet. And the old Confederate general has collected several layers of grime since the last time he got a serious scrubbing in the early 1980s.

“It was pretty dirty. We changed the soap bucket five or six times,” conservator Andrew Baxter said during a break from cleaning the bronze likeness of Stonewall Jackson along Richmond’s majestic Monument Avenue.

Mr. Baxter knows it could be worse. He has found loose change, wasp nests and underwear on other statues he has worked on.

For example, Mr. Baxter spotted a man’s pair of “racy” red underwear on the George Washington monument in Capitol Square. He also found a polka-dot tie slung around the 1st Virginia Regiment Infantry statue at Meadow Street Park.

“It looked rather absurd,” Mr. Baxter said.

At least Jackson wasn’t spotted with paint pellets or wearing a traffic cone on his head when Mr. Baxter, 46, began work. Pranksters have pulled off those stunts in past years.

The wiry and weathered Mr. Baxter owns Bronze et al in Richmond and is donating his work to the city. He hopes his donation will inspire others to contribute money to protect the other statues along Monument Avenue.

Mr. Baxter is getting help from the city’s parks department and friend and fellow conservator Scott McKee of Sculpture in Architecture in Fredericksburg. Mr. Baxter and Mr. McKee began work Monday and hoped to finish yesterday.

Mr. Baxter is particularly concerned about the green corrosion that rain and pollution have left on the monument. Green patches are visible on the base of the monument, Jackson’s head and left arm and his horse’s haunch.

The conservators are protecting Jackson from further corrosion with a mixture that looks like lemonade. Their work also involves applying a tinted wax to the statue. The wax, which has the appearance of black-bean sauce, covers the green spots on the brown statue.

Mr. Baxter waxed half of Jackson’s head Monday.

“He took it well,” Mr. Baxter said of Jackson. “He seemed pleased someone took an interest after all these years.”

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