The Infinite Echo

B. Thomas Cooper is a freelance journalist, photographer, blogger and historian. Topics include Political Commentary, Satire and History

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Location: Phoenix, Arizona, United States

Tuesday, September 07, 2010

Artisan tackles restoration of historic copper school doors

B. Thomas Cooper - Editor

When renowned copper sculptor George Green caught wind the town of Bisbee Arizona intended to pay an out-of-state company to restore the historic, seventy-five year old copper clad Lowell school doors, Green, a Bisbee resident, contacted the local school board with a better idea. By George, just have Green do it!

Green is one of many talented artisans who call the scenic town of Bisbee home. In recent years, the former turn-of-the-century mining town has become somewhat of an artist’s enclave. Green, who moved to Bisbee from phoenix to be near his family a few years ago, speaks fondly of Bisbee and is eager to contribute to the town he loves.

So when Green learned the Lowell school board was preparing to pay a San Diego firm $26,000 to restore the massive ten-foot by five-foot doors, Green stuck his foot in the door, offering to restore the copper laden doors for about half the price. “It seemed to me a large sum of money for the school board to raise”, Green remarked of the original $26,000 price tag when interviewed for this article. “I just thought I could do the job a lot cheaper, and perhaps better.“ The Lowell school board agreed.

The historic doors were moved to Mr. Green’s basement, where the artist has begun the process of meticulously disassembling the copper plates, careful to document and preserve as much original detail as possible. Green, who has a Master’s Degree in Fine Arts, is being assisted with the restoration by two other prominent local artisans. Chris Flager is handling repairs to the door’s heavy wooden cores, while Steve Wilkes assists with the bending and straightening of the copper.

Green calls the restoration process painstaking, predicting it will take months to complete, but no one seems in a hurry. The School board is actively seeking financial contributions to offset the cost of the process, including hosting a fundraiser billed as ‘Copper Pennies for the Copper Doors’. So far, about two thousand dollars has been raised for the project.

As can be expected, the aging doors have endured seventy-five years of abuse and neglect. Two years ago, the massive doors, weighing nearly five hundred pounds, were removed from their hinges and placed in storage. Long time Bisbee residents are thrilled with the prospect of having the unusual copper-plated doors swinging back into action. Most expect the restoration to be well worth the wait.

B. Thomas Cooper - Editor

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