FORT MYERS, FL (March 20, 2017) – After 91 years watching over the entrance to the Edison Park neighborhood, “Rachel” was due for a facelift. In late March, restoration work will begin on the neighborhood’s iconic entrance and the sculpture known as “The Spirit of Fort Myers,” often called “Rachel at the Well.” The monumental entrance is located at the intersection of McGregor Blvd. and Llewellyn Dr. in Fort Myers.
The restoration project is thought to be the most significant in the history of the monument.
Work will begin on March 27 with the addition of footers under the Edison Park’s four entrance columns. Once the columns are fortified and footers are installed, the City will begin cosmetic improvements and minor structural work on the columns and entrance arches. The City will follow by refurbishing the monument’s lighting before moving on to “The Spirit of Fort Myers” sculpture itself.
Rosa Lowinger & Associates, a national leader in art conservation, will manage the restoration of the sculpture. Refurbishment will include cleaning, restoration, and repainting.
“The Spirit of Fort Myers” and the Edison Park entrance was commissioned by developer James D. Newton and sculpted by German-American artist Helmut von Zengen. The sculpture was dedicated in a widely publicized ceremony in 1926. “The Spirit of Fort Myers” has long been a favorite of local pranksters who would fill her urn with bubbles, and of Fort Myers High School students who annually painted the sculpture in alternating coats of green and white for half a century. More recently, local artist D.J. Wilkins restored the sculpture and repaired its fountain in 1983.
The upcoming restoration project is expected take approximately two months, and will likely require the temporary closure of sidewalks near the Edison Park neighborhood entrance. City engineers do not anticipate significant traffic delays, as there are two separate lanes entering and exiting the neighborhood on Llewellyn Dr. The City plans to close one lane at a time during the restoration project to minimize transportation issues.