MONTICELLO - The Sun Singer did not have much to sing about.
The 75-year-old statue of the Greek god Apollo endured a steady downpour as it ascended Friday morning to its familiar perch at Allerton Park.
The well-known, 15-foot-tall symbol of the park, clothed only in a helmet adorned with a small horse, was returned to its limestone pedestal after undergoing restoration.
While there was no sign of the sun, the rainfall added a shining quality to the statue's brand-new bluish-green outer coat.
Sculpture Sources of Chicago, one of just a handful of firms in the nation specializing in restoring statues, accomplished the task. The work was done as the Sun Singer stood on the ground a few feet away from the plaza that surrounds the sculpture's base.
Barry Tinsley of Sculpture Sources said the statue's brilliant color comes from a coat of cupric nitrate, a liquid dissolved in water, which was applied with heat.
"The piece was this blue-green originally," Tinsley said. "We were trying to replicate it."
During the initial phase of the project, the entire statue was sandblasted, leaving just the raw metal underneath.
"There were areas where the corrosion was excessive," Tinsley said. "You don't want that on the bronze. So we cleaned it off and applied this patina and stabilized the patina."
Tinsley said he was impressed with the quality of the surface of the statue beneath the corrosion.
"It's really in good shape. A lot of times with older bronzes, you find a lot of pit holes. This doesn't have any of this at all."
Jim Gortner, associate director of Allerton, said the restoration project included tuckpointing and cleaning the limestone pedestal. The pedestal had been stained by rain runoff from the statue, as well as graffiti. There still is work to be done to seal the base against future staining and make graffiti easier to remove.
"If we maintain this properly, we should get 60 to 70 more years out of it," Gortner said.
Allerton Park, a 2Â½-square-mile former estate owned and operated by the University of Illinois, is in Piatt County, west of Monticello.
The statue was commissioned by Robert Allerton, then owner of the estate, after he saw the original 16-foot-tall sculpture by Carl Milles in Stockholm Harbor in 1929.
"Robert Allerton went to his studio to visit him in Sweden, and in Carl's garden, they saw a life-size version, 5 or 6 feet tall, missing arms and the head," said Kim Petzing, environmental program director at Allerton.
Allerton told Milles he wanted a statue of Apollo like the one in the harbor.
"He meant with the head and arms, but Milles thought he meant the same size," Petzing said.
So Milles went ahead and cast a 16-foot-tall bronze statue.
"Robert didn't know it was going to be that tall until he unpacked it from the crate," Petzing said, adding that he must have wondered why the crate was so large. "He was going to put it next to the mansion, but it would have been looking into someone's second story window."
Allerton knew he needed to create a unique setting for a piece that large, so he placed it in a circular meadow on the west side of the estate. After the estate became a public park, the Sun Singer became one of its most popular attractions.
Huey Freeman can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 421-6985.