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Efforts are underway to save the Civil War statue in Patchogue Village

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Steps are being taken toward restoring the Civil War statue that stands outside the American Legion Post 269 in Patchogue.

The Sons of the Union Veterans of the Civil War is looking to put together $61,000 to restore the 132-year-old monument, known as the “Citizen Soldier Statue,” which stands near the corner of South Ocean Avenue and Baker Street.

At first glance, the statue seems to be in fair condition — but only if you’re looking directly at it.

From the side, it’s easy to see the statue is leaning back dramatically.

The 16-foot-tall, cast zinc monument has a soldier positioned at the top that has been leaning for years — but the lean is getting worse. The statue has been deemed to be in critical condition, according to conservators from McKay Lodge Fine Art Conservations.

“I’m 57 years old and I’ve seen it leaning my whole life,” says longtime Bayport resident Scott McKendrick, a U.S. Navy veteran, who had always assumed the lean was intentional.

McKendrick, who is also the commander of the Sons of the Union group, is spearheading the revival project with his quartermaster, Thomas Badamo.

McKendrick first learned of the potential hazard when he surveyed the monument with the Smithsonian’s senior objects conservator, Carol Grissom. She informed him that monuments built in the late 1880s that were made of the same material have experienced the same issue.

Fourteen months after the initial survey by Grissom, Badamo took fresh photos of the monuments, and together they learned that in just that short time, the soldier had moved an additional six degrees off center.

In addition to the lean, the base of the statue is experiencing bulging from the weight of the near 600-pound soldier.

The findings got McKendrick and Badamo on the phone with McKay Lodge Fine Conservations, a company that works with the National Park Service to restore historic monuments.

“As direct decedents of Union veterans our mission is to inspire towns to refurbish Civil War monuments,” said McKendrick.

Currently, the Sons of the Union is looking to raise enough money to send the monument to Ohio for restoration.

The project would take over a year, and would include some of the following, according to Badamo:

  • Fixing the bulging base
  • Replacing the box the man is standing on
  • Creating a stainless steel support system inside the statue

As part of the fundraising efforts, McKendrick and Badamo will be accepting donations at Alive After Five, and will be applying for federal and state grants.

“We are working hard to get this done and the village has been a great help,” said McKendrick.

“The monument is an essential part of our history on a national level, and to the Village of Patchogue,” said Patchogue Mayor Paul Pontieri. “We can’t let it collapse on itself.”

History of Patchogue’s Citizen Soldier Statue
  • It was erected in 1885, originally on Academy Street in front of a now-gone wooden schoolhouse.
  • The statue was moved to its current location sometime between 1922 and 1924.
  • Many of the family names of Civil War veterans listed on the statue are also names of nearby roads like Avery, Conklin, and Bailey.
  • There is an old wives’ tale that’s been in circulation that maintains teenagers in the mid-1950s were climbing on the statue, which caused the lean to begin.
(L-R) Thomas Badamo standing with Scott McKendrick by the Citizen Soldier Statue