The Friends of Astoria Column redoubled their efforts to raise money for a thorough restoration of the Column’s artwork and park grounds. After raising $1 million, Frank Preusser, a world-renown art conservator, was hired to perform the formidable restoration project. Preusser had previously worked on the Sphinx in Egypt and the Angkor Wat temples in Cambodia, so it was fitting that an artisan of his standing would work on the beloved Astoria Column.
Working under a huge, plastic cocoon, Preusser and his local crew worked to bring new life to Pusterla’s murals. The team used historical photos and the original scratch lines to restore the murals. Only 20 percent of the original art remained when they began the project. When they finished, the Column was treated with water-repellent. Preusser recommended restoring the Column every eight-to-15 years.
The restoration included rebuilding the doors, restoring the cupola and cleaning its windows, and replacing the copper finial that once perched on top of the Column. The City of Astoria replaced the railing on the viewing platform to meet modern building codes.
In November 1995, when the scaffolding came down, Astorians had their monument back, looking as brilliant as it did when Pusterla completed his murals in 1926.
Top: The Column before, during, and after the 1995 restoration.
PHOTO COURTESY THE FRIENDS OF ASTORIA COLUMN