A piece of hometown history will be back in time for Wadsworth’s Bicentennial and Memorial Day celebrations.
The statue known as “The Boy with the Boot” that was melted down during World War II to provide metal for the war effort will be returned to downtown Wadsworth with the help of the city of Sandusky.
Sandusky officials have agreed to loan their replica of the statue to the Sculptors Guild to make a mold that it will use to cast another statue in bronze.
The approximately 4-foot-tall statue will cost $17,000 and will be placed in the middle of a $6,000 fountain.
“We believe we can have everything together for that May tribute,” Wadsworth Mayor Robin Laubaugh said.
A “Boy with the Boot” statue sat in downtown Wadsworth from the late 1800s until the 1940s, Laubaugh said.
The local lore is that the statue represents a young boy who used a boot to bring water to Civil War soldiers.
Caesar Carrino, former mayor of Wadsworth and a local historian, remembers seeing the statue when he was a boy of 6 or 7.
“It has a particular significance to a lot of people,” he said. “People my age regard that as a symbol of the early days of Wadsworth.”
Carrino said in August that the American Legion post and the local Veterans of Foreign Wars post have made several attempts in the past 30 to 40 years to acquire a new statue.
But they had to find one first.
City officials found two statues in Sandusky.
The “Boy with the Boot” first was installed in 1895 in Sandusky by Voltaire Scott, of Baden, Germany, according to a history account on the Lake Erie Shores and Islands website.
Scott bought a hotel and constructed a small park across the street. In the center he built a rock pedestal surrounded by grass, trees and shrubs. The “Boy with the Boot” was cast by J.W. Fiske Ironworks in New York City and placed on the pedestal.
The statue was damaged by a tornado in 1924 and moved to the city’s greenhouse and later to Sandusky’s Washington Park, where it was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1982.
During the 1990s, vandals damaged the statue several times. The original was repaired and moved to the lobby of City Hall and an identical bronze replica was made and placed in Washington Park.
Sandusky officials were hesitant to part with their replica when approached by Wadsworth officials.
“It was moved once before and damaged, so we would have concerns about transport. It’s the symbol of the city,” said C. Wesley Poole, one of the city’s seven elected commissioners.
Dan Freeman, of the Wadsworth Street Department, said a member of the Toledo Area Sculptor’s Guild — the group that made the Sandusky replica — was able to convince Sandusky officials that no harm would come to their statue.
At the base of the fountain, plaques donated by the local American Legion will list the names of all Wadsworth residents who have given their lives in American wars.
Freeman and Bill Alexander of AK Concrete in Wadsworth will begin work on the fountain with volunteer labor as soon as the weather permits.
The costs of the statue and fountain will be paid through donations and fundraisers, Laubaugh said.
“The donations were kicked off with a very generous donation from our local American Legion post, and other individuals have donated towards the cost,” she said.
Donations made to the Bicentennial Fund can be specifically designated for the statue and fountain project.
Laubaugh said a spring penny drive at Wadsworth schools will add more to the funds and raise awareness of the project within the community.
Contact reporter Dan Pompili at (330) 721-4012 or firstname.lastname@example.org.