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Did Occupy protesters damage Elk statue?

Historic statue needs $4,500 after protest camp, cost to be covered by Clean and Safe District
by: Christopher Onstott A protester celebrates as the Occupy Portland campers take control of Main Street between Chapman and Lawnsdale squares in defiance of a mid-November eviction deadline. An arts group says the Thompson Fountain elk statute needs $4,500 in repairs.

The historic 112-year-old bronze Elk statue in the middle of Southwest Main Street needs $4,500 in repairs.

Although city officials cannot be sure, the damage to the antlers may have been caused during the Occupy Portland encampment in the park blocks on both sides of the statue - whose name is Elk.

The damage was discovered during inspections by the Regional Arts and Culture Council after the camp was broken up on Nov. 13. Several news photos - including a number taken by the Portland Tribune - showed protesters occasionally perched on top of the statue during the five-week encampment.

The statue had not been inspected for damage before the camp was established on Oct. 6.

Repairs to the statue will be funded by downtown's Clean and Safe District, which is managed by Portland Business Alliance and provides cleaning, security and community justice services. When district board members heard about the damages to the statute, they agreed to cover the cost.

'The folks at Clean and Safe do such a good job of keeping downtown Portland a vital place to work, live and visit,' says Mayor Adams. 'This donation to help keep one of our important pieces of history in shape is both generous and reflective of the cooperative spirit of the City. Thank you.'

Damage to the squares

City officials say Occupy Portland campers caused an estimated $85,850 in damages to Chapman and Lownsdale squares. The Portland Parks Foundation is seeking contributions to cover the repair costs. Major donations to date include $25,000 from Umpqua Bank and $4,000 from the Portland Marathon, which uses the parks every year.

The statue was created in 1900 by artist Roland Perry and donated to the city by former Mayor David P. Thompson. Repairs will begin this weekend and require the closure of one lane on Main Street.

According to the city, the antler sections are composed of multiple individual segments joined together and secured by thick central pin or armature. The outer bronze section of the joint on the statue has separated and loosened, and will be repaired by welding the seam together. The seams will then be 'chased' - the chasing process involves several steps that smooth the weld and match its texture to the surrounding metal.

Once chased, the repaired area will have a matching patina applied and will be waxed to provide a layer of surface protection from the elements.

'Our downtown would not be the same without this landmark statue and we want it to be there for generations to come so the decision to make this donation was an easy one,' said Dave Williams, chairman of the Clean and Safe District's board.

'As a symbol of Portland's cultural heritage, the elk is second only to Portlandia or perhaps the Skidmore Fountain - everyone knows the Elk, and after more than 100 years it is still in great shape,' says RACC's Public Art Collections Manager Keith Lachowicz. 'This repair, made possible by Clean and Safe, will ensure that the Elk is well preserved as it moves into its second century.'