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Friends of Astoria Column approved to proceed with $1 million restoration

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On April 20, 2015 the Astoria City Council approved plans presented by the nonprofit Friends of Astoria Column for a major restoration of the Column—a historic landmark that was dedicated in 1926 and is approaching 90 years of age.

The restoration includes cleaning the exterior surface of the Column, including the series of historic murals that spiral from bottom to top of the 125-foot structure. The restoration also calls for structural repairs to stabilize cracking, delamination and spalling; architectural repairs; and additional structural surveys, evaluations and inspections.

In addition to maintaining the structural integrity of this historic landmark, preservation of the artwork on the Astoria Column is critical to ensure survival of this cultural asset for future generations. Because of its location high on Coxcomb Hill, the Column is exposed to punishing environmental conditions like gale-force winds and driving rain that inflict wear on the structure and its artwork. Restorative efforts are conducted as dictated by the state of the structure and the effects of variable weather conditions, and are hoped to last 10 to 20 years.

The most recent major art restoration performed on the Astoria Column was completed in 1995. Additional improvements to the grounds were completed in 2004, and the Column’s spiral staircase was replaced in 2008. With the exception of the stair replacement, these projects, totaling over $3.5 million, were funded exclusively by Friends of Astoria Column through campaigns and grants.

The restoration and activities associated with the 2015 project are estimated to cost approximately $1 million. More than half of the estimated cost is required to repair the Column artwork and structure itself. The balance is allocated to restoration and repair of the plaza that surrounds the base of the Column, landscape improvements, and installation of new energy-efficient LED lighting.

$500,000 has already been committed to the project by private donors, and the balance will be raised through local and regional fundraising campaigns and events.

“In its 89 years, the Astoria Column continues to be the heart and soul of Astoria and the Northern Oregon Coast. It is a beacon of the exploration and settlement of the West for over 400,000 visitors a year. We, the Friends of Astoria Column, are a nonprofit group that was formed in 1988 to restore and maintain the Column. In 1995, twenty years ago, we commenced our biggest restoration project and let everyone see the beauty of the Column that had been tarnished over the years by the weather. Today, we are announcing a million dollar capital campaign to ‘touch up’ our beloved Column and make sure it continues to grace Coxcomb Hill. Please join us in our campaign, whether it’s a dollar or a dollar with a few zeros attached. Be part of preserving our history! Restoring the Column is not just for ourselves and our children, but their children and their children, and many generations to come!”—Jordan Schnitzer, President, Friends of Astoria Column

“The Astoria Column depicts the visual history of our community, and is the place to take visitors. We appreciate the work of Friends of Astoria Column. We could not otherwise afford this needed restoration. We’re so grateful for their efforts.”—Astoria Mayor Arline LaMear

The Column restoration will be underway in May and continue through the summer. Completion is projected for September 2015. The Column grounds will observe regular hours during the restoration, and docents will be onsite to share information about the restoration project. Access to the interior of the Column will be prohibited after Memorial Day through the end of June, but should otherwise be open to visitors during regular hours throughout the restoration. Guests are advised to call the Astoria Column (503.325.2963), visit the website (astoriacolumn.org) or check social media feeds (facebook.com/astoriacolumn and twitter.com/astoriacolumn) for the latest information prior to their visit.

For information about this release, contact Tiffany Estes, 503-325-4485 or tbestes@wholebraincreative.com.