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By Jimmie Earls
Sun Staff Writer
If you were driving through downtown Springfield Thursday morning, you couldn’t help notice all to the commotion by the Washington County Judicial Center. It was a big day as the town was paid a visit by none other than President Abraham Lincoln. Actually, it was an 11-foot, 1,195 pound bronze statue of our 16th president, but it was nonetheless a site to behold.
Mr. Lincoln arrived the day before, and was stored in the basement of the judicial center until he was ready to be transported through the sally port doors, up Cross Main Street to the plaza of the building. The move was supervised by Ronnie Frostad, owner of Frostad Atelier Foundry in McClellan, Calif., who did the actual casting and pouring of the statue.
“That was the first time I’ve ever been in a basement,” said Frostad. “There are no basements in California. See what I’ve been all these years? I said, ‘Oh my gosh, what I could do if I had one of these spaces under my house.’ It was pretty awesome.”
Getting Lincoln from the foundry to downtown Springfield proved to be a laborious process.
“It took about 14 weeks to prepare the piece, from making the molds all the way to the patina,” Frostad said. “Paula Slater (the statue’s sculptor) and I have worked together for numerous years. Once it goes out of the artist’s hands and comes into the foundry, she has no control of it. It’s very difficult for an artist, but she’s awesome to work with, and we have an understanding. There’s a lot of love that goes into these pieces.”
Once the statue was brought to the edge of the plaza, the head was carefully unwrapped so John Simms and David Million from M&J Construction could prepare to lift it onto the base. That involved securing the statue by the neck, an odd sight that many passersby got a kick out of.
“I strap pieces all the time and use my crane in my foundry,” added Frostad. “For some reason, I don’t feel right about putting this noose around his neck. But I have to do it, and then we’ll lift him up with the crane. We’ll do a dry run, then take him back out and get him all set. He’s absolutely gorgeous. I’m so pleased.”
The statue is practically a giant puzzle involving several sections that were cast and then welded together.
The placement went pretty smoothly through the morning and finished around noon. This was a day that Frostad, the city and the county have been looking forward to for a long time, and nothing was going to ruin it for Frostad.
“I just got a cast off my foot about a week ago,” she said. “I was really worried about getting that thing off. The doctor said he’d like to go another week and I told him, ‘No, you’re taking this cast off. I’ve got a date with Abraham Lincoln.”