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Boston Herald
Boston Herald
6 Jan 2024
Stuart Cahill, Flint McColgan


NextImg:Old North Church’s George Washington bust revitalized

After well over a century, everyone starts showing their age.

But there’s good news for the marble bust of George Washington housed at the Old North Church: a specialist named Christopher Gutierrez knows all the tricks to fix any blemish.

“Today we are working on the restoration cleaning of the sculpture of General George Washington, president George Washington to the rest of us,” Gutierrez said Saturday as he approached the bust with an ultraviolet light. “First steps are going to be to give it a thorough inspection and both visually and with a black light to make sure that there are no defects within the marble. … My guess is there’s probably nothing wrong with it, just it needs a cleaning.”

That wasn’t the case for the four wooden angels across the church, up on the balcony with the organ, which had been busted up pretty badly in years past. Gutierrez said they’d just returned from the shop of the company where he works as lead technician and art handler for the Boston-based Manzi Appraisers & Restoration.

The bust was donated to the church, then known as Christ Church, by Shubael Bell Warden in 1815, according to its plaque. And it quickly got a reputation as one of the truest representations of America’s first president in art, even according to someone who should rightly know: Washington’s own revolutionary friend, the Marquis de Lafayette of France.

“In 1824, the Marquis de Lafayette did this tour in America and came to the church and said that this bust was the best likeness ofGeorge Washington he’d ever seen,” said David Manzi, owner of Manzi Appraisers and Restoration.

The New England Historical Society quotes the Marquis as saying this: “Yes, that is the man I knew and more like him than any other portrait.”

And after all that time, Washington might just need a quick dusting to get back to looking his best.

“We’re not talking very high tech with the stuff,” Gutierrez said. “That’s the funny part part, but it’ll be Swiffer to get the big dust and I’ll be using a Dust Buster to vacuum up the dust so we’re not just redistributing the dust.”

Gutierrez also applied a paste he hopes will give the marble a good cleaning and shine. He put a sample on the back of the bust so that if it doesn’t work or fouls the marble, the visible part of the bust won’t be affected.

Christopher Gutierrez uses an ultra violet light to look for cracks and fissure in the statue as restorers clean up the bust of George Washington at the Old North Church on Saturday. (Staff Photo By Stuart Cahill/Boston Herald)

Staff Photo By Stuart Cahill/Boston Herald
Christopher Gutierrez uses an ultra violet light to look for cracks and fissure in the statue as restorers clean up the bust of George Washington at the Old North Church on Saturday. (Staff Photo By Stuart Cahill/Boston Herald)

Christopher Gutierrez uses a Swiffer and a Dust Buster as restorers clean up the bust of George Washington at the Old North Church on Saturday. (Staff Photo By Stuart Cahill/Boston Herald)

Staff Photo By Stuart Cahill/Boston Herald
Christopher Gutierrez uses a Swiffer and a Dust Buster as restorers clean up the bust of George Washington at the Old North Church on Saturday. (Staff Photo By Stuart Cahill/Boston Herald)

Christopher Gutierrez wipes down George with ionized water as restorers clean up the bust of George Washington at Saturday. (Staff Photo By Stuart Cahill/Boston Herald)

Staff Photo By Stuart Cahill/Boston Herald
Christopher Gutierrez wipes down George with ionized water as restorers clean up the bust of George Washington at Saturday. (Staff Photo By Stuart Cahill/Boston Herald)