Since 1926, the Astoria Column has endured walloping winds and torrential coastal storms which have taken their toll on the beloved local icon and national landmark. The nonprofit group Friends of Astoria Column, founded in 1988 to provide restoration and education, has raised and donated the funding to support several immense restoration projects to preserve the unique national treasure. With 50 tons of scaffolding and a netting cover in place for the 2015 restoration campaign, the Column now moves from the surface cleaning stage to an elaborate painting procedure.
“The Astoria Column, in and of itself, is an historic treasure unique to the entire nation,” says Marie Laibinis, internationally recognized expert in conservation of art and cultural objects, and Project Director and Conservator for the 2015 Astoria Column Restoration Project. “What makes the Astoria Column so incredibly special is its original artwork by Italian painter Attilio Pusterla, whose sgraffito technique was very similar to that used in Italy to adorn exterior building facades. The technique includes applying a layer of plaster tinted in contrasting colors and then scratching through the paint to create the drawing and design showing ornamentation where surface paint is layered to reveal contrasting colors and images.”
The Astoria Column Restoration Project 2015 is one of the most significant to date involving a team of preservation specialists to address structural repairs, architectural repairs, and additional structural surveys, elevations and inspections. Repairs to the plaza at the base of the Column, as well as landscape improvements and energy-efficient lighting upgrades will also be completed.
With the 2015 Astoria Column Restoration well underway, a unique national treasure and beloved local icon will shine bright for a 90th birthday celebration in 2016. History is preserved, community pride continues, and hundreds of thousands of visitors will enjoy the splendor and awe this national monument inspires.