Saturday May 25th, 2024 10:49AM

Cornelia getting to the core of aging Big Red Apple ailments

CORNELIA – Cornelia’s iconic Big Red Apple monument downtown is nearly 100 years old and is showing its age.

For that reason, the city commission has voted to spend nearly $16,000 for rehab of the historic structure located beside the railroad tracks.

“The Big Red Apple was molded in 1925 and it has stood at the train depot since 1926,” said Cornelia City Manager Donald Anderson. “For nearly 100 years it has been the symbol of Cornelia. The monument is made of concrete and steel and after 95 years of being exposed to the elements it is in serious need of repairs.”

Cornelia’s engineering firm, Carter & Sloope, prepared and advertised a request for proposals soliciting bids to restore the Big Red Apple.

Smith Art Conservation LLC, a company in business since 2008, was the only firm to submit a proposal. The firm has offices in Sacramento, Nashville, and Los Angeles

“They specialize in care, conservation, assessment, and restoration of sculptural artworks,” Anderson said.

The proposal submitted by the firm provides a look at why the apple continues to need rehabilitation.

“Water ingress in combination with internal armature corrosion within the concrete apple have caused the unsightly water runoff streaks throughout the red surfaces, along with the combination of typical environmental exposure and age have led to concrete losses resulting in a warped and blistered surface filled with surface cracking and blistering paint,” the document reads.

During Tuesday night’s Cornelia City Commission work session, opinions were divided about whether to restore the apple exactly as is or to make it look more like an apple.

Ward 3 Commissioner Don Bagwell said he would like to see the monument modernized by reshaping the fruit to look more like an apple.

“I really think if we improve the aesthetic beauty of it, it’ll get a lot more attention,” Bagwell said.

But Ward 4 Commissioner Tony Cook disagreed.

“For 100 years, the apple has done real well,” Cook said. “I don’t know if we can change it or not.”

While not taking a side in the discussion, Mayor John Borrow told commissioners, “I think there’s a bit of a charm to the round apple.”

Several times through the years the former Cornelia Chamber of Commerce, the city and other groups have cleaned and repainted the Big Red Apple, but now the structure needs more extensive work, Anderson said.

“Our goal is to perform substantial restoration utilizing the highest degree of craftsmanship while avoiding a complete refabrication or rebuild of the landmark,” the proposal states. “A newly-fabricated piece would be significantly more expensive, not to mention ethically at odds with the true mission of historical preservation.”

The $15,881 needed for the project will come from the city’s Community Redevelopment Fund, which has a balance of $18,992.

  • Associated Categories: Homepage, Local/State News
  • Associated Tags: Cornelia, Big Red Apple, Cornelia City Commission , historic monument, downtown redevelopment
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