Original Centre Street Bridge Lions

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Original Centre Street Bridge Lions

Postby newsposter » Mon Dec 20, 2010 10:29 am

A representative of the Calgary Heritage Initiative raised concerns about the status of the original Centre Street Lions at Council's Community and Protective Services committee earlier in December. Here is an article in the December 20 Herald, and some other links about the liions:

Original Centre Street lions wasting away
By Jason Markusoff, Calgary Herald December 20, 2010


At City Hall's main entrance, the lion's grand concrete mane and poised, sentinel gaze greet civic employees and draw out countless tourists' cameras. "Still guarding the heart of our city," reads the bronze plaque on the restored original 1916 statue from the Centre Street Bridge.

While its four 21st century replicas still preside royally on plinths atop the bridge, its three 94-year-old brothers are deteriorating in a southeast city yard -- and are now at a crossroads between renewal, the auctioneer's gavel and a much less dignified end...

...City officials failed to find the protected display locations for the other original statues like they committed to a decade ago. Now, the city waste division that has long offered the lions refuge needs the yard space for garbage-cart storage, prompting the city to try anew to find a home for the felines...

The artist who restored them suggested the cracked cats be junked. The city's Public Art Board recommended they be "deaccessioned" -- offered to another public collection, auctioned off, or, if those steps find no takers, junked.

Calgary Heritage Authority, however, wants them saved. "They were, since 1916, some of Calgary's original public art, so we think they should be reconstituted as public art," chairman Scott Jolliffe said. "Anything can be restored at some cost. It's just a question of what is the cost, and can we do it and still live within our means."...

Full story:
http://www.calgaryherald.com/travel/Ori ... story.html

Herald video, story by Rick Donkers:
http://www.calgaryherald.com/uncertain+ ... story.html
And on Youtube:

Want to adopt a lion? Here is a link to the City website for that:
http://www.calgary.ca/portal/server.pt/ ... +Lions.htm

Here is a story about the Lions presently on the bridge, cast from an original: http://www.shotcrete.org/pdf_files/0401Kroman.pdf
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Postby newsposter » Wed Mar 30, 2011 4:26 pm

At their January 2011 meeting, the Calgary Heritage Authority evaluated the Original Centre Street Bridge Lions as City-wide Historic Resources. One of the lions is restored and in front of the Municipal Building. The other three are in various states of disrepair, stored at the City's Mayland Yards. See the above posting for more on the original lions, which were replaced by new lions based on casts of an original when the Centre Street Bridge was refurbished a few years ago.

The CHA's Evaluation and Review Committee determined that:

- The sculptures exemplify great artistic skill in their craftsmanship, and the dry process of sculpting in which they were constructed, which was unique in the region at the time for work of this scale (Construction value - City-wide significance).
- The lions are symbolic of Calgary's strong ties to the British Empire in the early 20th century and have since become familiar icons within Calgary (Symbolic value - City-wide significance).
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Postby 00fxd » Sat Feb 11, 2012 6:00 pm

It can't seriously considered to dispose of the original sculptures because they have been copied. There must be many indoor options for them to be displayed ... One in the Devonian gardens, One in the conservatory at the Zoo to name a couple of thoughts ....
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Postby newsposter » Tue Feb 14, 2012 10:19 am

If indoors, might be interesting to leave them in their weathered condition rather than full restoration.
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Postby 00fxd » Tue Feb 14, 2012 10:51 am

As I recall, they are not in terrible condition. The concern was that they did not get any worse ....
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Postby Admin » Mon Feb 20, 2012 5:44 pm

http://www.calgaryherald.com/news/calga ... story.html

Original Centre Street Bridge lions exposed to elements

By Jason Markusoff, Calgary Herald February 20, 2012 5:07 PM

CALGARY — It’s hard to think of three more iconic Calgary felines, but the original Centre Street Bridge lions have lately been getting the stray cat treatment.

At a Mayland Heights city maintenance yard last Monday, snow blanketed the ground as well as the 96-year-old statues, formerly guardians of Calgary’s downtown gateway that have long been sitting in open storage.

Tarps are supposed to constantly shelter them from the elements and moisture, but the coverings had either fallen off or were removed at least several weeks ago — and the Calgary’s civic art division wasn’t aware until a Herald reporter inquired about the lack of tarps last week.

After years of sitting there with no businesses or agencies willing to pay for their restoration and public display, the concrete lions have slowly deteriorated since the late-1990s. A new structural assessment has been delayed for months as heritage advocates await to find out whether there’s any hope of a future besides the dump for the statues.

Read more: http://www.calgaryherald.com/Original+C ... z1myN4aCxM
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Postby 00fxd » Mon Feb 20, 2012 8:23 pm

"A new structural assessment has been delayed for months as heritage advocates await to find out whether there’s any hope of a future besides the dump for the statues."

They have to be kidding - how hard is it to tarp them up.
Is there any contact info [email address?] that can be supplied to us to express our objection? Has our state of affairs really sunk to this desperate level? I hope that this will be monitored via the mentioned newspaper reporter. Really tho, a temporary shed should be built to shelter them until a permanent home is found.
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Postby newsposter » Tue Feb 21, 2012 10:34 am

00fxd wrote: Is there any contact info [email address?] that can be supplied to us to express our objection?

If you want to contact the elected leadership, you can contact all aldermen at alderweb@calgary.ca, and the mayor at themayor@calgary.ca

They also have online contact pages here, with forms you can fill out, if you want to contact all or individual Council members:

http://www.calgary.ca/Aldermen/Pages/ho ... =/aldermen

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Postby LauraGrace » Fri Aug 31, 2012 10:56 am

Can't cover these cats: Centre Street Lions want to come and play
Jason Markusoff, Calgary Herald, August 31, 2012

I’m not sure whether or not this is a cliché: You can’t keep a grand cat covered up for long.

As a Herald writer, I’m afforded a good opportunity to keep tabs on the original 1916 Centre Street Bridge lions statues. They’re stored in a city yard that’s opposite the Calgary Herald building’s parking lot, which means that whenever I move from the City Hall bureau to HQ, I get a glimpse of them.

Ever since our last story about the concrete lions getting snowed on when their covering had come off, they’ve been kept under blue tarp and rope. This week at the Mayland Heights yard, however, the tarps have frayed through an apparent cocktail of heat, rain and time.

One lion has its crown and ear showing; another, its nose and ear; a third has his entire head exposed to the elements.

The city’s public art division is their steward, but its staff, based in Cliff Bungalow, is stretched thin and can only inspect them about four times a year. They must rely on the yard crew to keep a regular eye on the tarps and lions within.

In February, the tarps had seemingly blown away in the wind, and were replaced within days when the Herald asked questions about it.

On one hand, the original lions have been exposed to weather for most of their 96 years. On the other, there’s this 2002 recommendation from a structural assessment:

“These sculptures are fragile and while they can be exposed to temperature fluctuations, they cannot be exposed to moisture or the potential for vandalism.”

A follow-up structural assessment, conducted over the past couple years, has yet to be released. City staff have begun “next steps” consultations with heritage groups and other parties on the uncertain fate of the fragile sculptures.

The Calgary Heritage Authority is pushing for them to be preserved, though saving all three could run up to $1 million if it’s even possible. The Public Art Board, meanwhile, has argued that they’re just worn concrete, and that they should be “deaccessioned.” That is: offered to another public collection, auctioned off, or junked.

The Lion Awards, by the way, is the title of the city’s annual heritage awards — a nod to the one original cat the city did save and is now displayed at the entrance to City Hall.

Article online at: http://blogs.calgaryherald.com/2012/08/ ... -and-play/
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Postby 00fxd » Fri Aug 31, 2012 11:37 am

You know, it's not brain surgery. Simply build a cover, maybe at the zoo or some other public place in an un accessible area, where they will be protected from moister and sun. And it sure as hell won't cost millions of dollars. Anyone who suggests that these be destroyed are obviously idiots and have no right representing anyone.
And as a last resort, there are many very well to do people in this prosperous city that would no doubt be tickled to acquire one or all of these Lions for their own gardens to display. Great bragging rights. I would not hesitate if I was in that position. The agreement would include that they are bound to keep them in surroundings that would be appropriate for their protection. That would be a last resort because they are public property and should be available to view. The great minds could could put some thought into the situation as they are hired to do as opposed to just tossing them out as trash .....
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Postby newsposter » Fri Aug 31, 2012 3:06 pm

The Lions get some respect in this very good video from the City of Calgary about the history of public art in Calgary, from July 2012:

http://www.calgarycitynews.com/2012/07/ ... video.html
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Postby newsposter » Fri Sep 07, 2012 4:11 pm

Heritage and public art stakeholders, including the Calgary Heritage Initiative, are continuing to work together on the future of the Lions, according to this City of Calgary news blog posting from September 7, 2012:

Calgary icons are public treasures
http://www.calgarycitynews.com/2012/09/ ... sures.html
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Postby LauraGrace » Thu Sep 20, 2012 8:46 am

City to finally protect historic Centre Street Bridge lions
By JASON MARKUSOFF, Calgary Herald September 19, 2012

After years of rain, snow, wind and neglect in a city storage yard, the 1916 Centre Street Bridge lions will get a covered shelter this fall as the city determines what their future holds.

Weather, moisture and age have further deteriorated the three statues since they were moved from the bridge to a storage yard in 1999 — in such poor condition that their heads could come off if moved again, says a structural assessment obtained by the Herald.

But the report concludes they can be repaired and displayed again. An internal memo to the city’s public art staff says saving the trio of fragile sculptures will cost around $625,000, which is less than figures as high as $1 million cited by other Calgary officials. Council may get to make a decision by spring.

While their replacements sit proudly on the bridge and one restored feline guards City Hall, the three other original statues have sat in open-air storage across the street from the Herald office’s parking lot, covered only by plastic tarpaulins that have been prone to fraying or coming off.

The city has had repeated recommendations the lions be properly guarded from moisture, most lately in the March that urged a covered and ventilated covering as an “immediate measure.”

With some money from the public art reserve, city staff are now working to obey that recommendation, with “something that is more permanent than a Quonset, tent-style thing,” said Rachael Seupersad, the city’s public art superintendent.

“We would hope to get that in place relatively quickly, hopefully before the snow flies.”

The lions are stored far from where Seupersad’s staff works, and she said they lack resources to regularly check up on all the art pieces and artifacts the city holds throughout Calgary. Between 1999 and 2010, the tarps were never replaced until a new employee joined the art team and became their de facto steward.

In February, the Herald discovered all three lions caked in snow after their tarps had come off, before yard workers covered them with new, blue plastic sheets. In late August, all of one lion’s head and parts of the other two poked out through disintegrated tarps, and after a Herald blog post about it they got fresh tarps again.

A week afterward, the city issued a blog post of its own about the lions, saying the “icons are public treasures” and would be discussed by heritage and public art groups later this year.

“We don’t treat them like they’re very great. It’s embarrassing,” said Ald. Druh Farrell. She is looking forward to hearing the proposed ideas for their future.

“In the meantime, we’re being told about their condition by Herald reporters, who seem to be caring more about them than we do.”

The felines are the namesake for the city’s annual Lion Awards, which celebrate heritage preservation.

“I can’t imagine a more important symbol of our heritage,” Farrell said.

Council decided early last decade that at least two of the three lions should be restored and displayed, but there were no non-profit or private groups interested in hosting them. (Aldermen haven’t formally discussed the lions since then.) So the 1916 beasts have remained in limbo — both in the yard and in between the opinions of various city groups. The heritage authority wants them preserved, while the Public Art Board has deemed them mere concrete structures that should be auctioned off or trashed if there are no takers.

Seupersad said the felines’ fate will be considered in conversations with advocates and experts in both heritage and public art, in monthly meetings this fall. They will report to council this spring, and now with the city-commissioned report know that restoring the old lions is an option, she said.

In March, the long-awaited study came in from the Chicago analysts who first studied the statues in 1999, when the bridge underwent massive repairs.

The new report says the most “viable” option is to repair the lions and display them somewhere that’s covered but outdoors, like their restored cousin sitting beneath a concrete canopy at City Hall.

If the repair to cracks and the coating is done on another site, there’s still some work needed to protect the fragile heads from becoming dislodged.

“Although not recommended, should it unfortunately be decided to cease efforts to preserve the lions (i.e. provide no protection and repair) and allow them to deteriorate, then we recommend that consideration be given to preparing accurate documentation . . . to record the history, construction and appearance of the lions for the future,” the Wiss, Janney, Elstner Associates report states.

While it’s unclear where the city would find $625,000 or the final costs of restoring the lions, council is on the verge of approving $3.5 million for art that complements the west LRT line

Read more: http://www.calgaryherald.com/City+final ... z271cuyWF4

Editorial: Call of the wild spending
City shouldn't waste $625,000 restoring concrete lions
Calgary Herald September 24, 2012

We don't want to be catty, but it seems there's no such thing as a measured city response to dealing with the remaining lion sculptures that once adorned the Centre Street Bridge. After allowing them to languish for more than a decade in a storage yard, the recommended solution now is a $625,000 publicly funded restoration.

Surely the city can deal with the three concrete figures without spending such a hefty sum, which granted, is less than the $1 million other officials have estimated. The fact is one of the original lions has already been preserved and it can be observed by Calgarians outside City Hall, where it's protected from the elements by an overhang. If Calgarians don't want to make the trip down Macleod Trail to the public building, they can drive over the bridge it-self and spot the four replacements fashioned from a mould made from the original 1916 sentinels.

"We don't treat them like they're very great. It's embarrassing," says Ald. Druh Farrell, who says she is looking forward to hearing proposals that ensure the trio will be around for many years to come.

The big cats are in increasingly poor condition. Tarpaulins covering the lions were never replaced between 1999, when they arrived in the storage yard, and 2010, when a new employee joined the art team and began showing a greater interest in the relics.

In February of this year, the lions were spotted covered in snow after the tarps had blown off again. And late last month, one lion's head and parts of the other two could be seen poking through tired plastic covers.

That the lions have been treated shabbily is regrettable, but that doesn't mean it's time to throw a lot of taxpayers' money at their restoration. It was only weeks ago, after all, that an old city-owned air-plane that had been rotting away in a warehouse was sent to Nanton to be restored at a cost of $800,000 of Calgary taxpayers' money. The city needs to get a firmer grip on its priorities.

It's not as though the lions were created from marble at the hands of Michaelangelo or some other Renaissance artist. So while the city's heritage authority wants them pre-served, the public art board has classed them as concrete structures that should be auctioned off, or trashed if there are no takers.

In addition to the $625,000 restoration, there's also the cost of a temporary storage facility, which would ideally be ventilated to keep the delicate felines out of the elements. All in all, the lions' reformation is an ill-considered project that's bound to get more costly at a time when the city is fighting to restrain tax increases and telling senior levels of government that it needs a new framework to fund essential services to Calgarians.

The city should reject a publicly funded makeover and in-stead immediately seek private sector partners one last time who are prepared to pony up some cash and let the lions hold their heads high. And if no one comes forward to help, well, like the art board recommended, throw them to the lions.

© Copyright (c) The Calgary Herald

Read more: http://www.calgaryherald.com/opinion/ed ... z29cNV5tD4
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Postby newsposter » Tue Apr 02, 2013 10:35 am

News of a City proposal to put the original Centre Street Lions on the West LRT route:

Item for April 3, 2013 Council Committee meeting (SPC on Community and Protective Services):
http://agendaminutes.calgary.ca/sirepub ... ype=AGENDA

Media stories (more available on Google):

Original Centre Street Bridge lions find new life
Statues to be rescued from storage for west LRT route
By Jason Markusoff, Calgary Herald April 1, 2013
Read more: http://www.calgaryherald.com/news/calga ... z2PKPHfb7O

Old lion statues may move to C-Train stations
CBC News Posted: Apr 1, 2013 4:43 PM MT (with video)
http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/calgary/s ... tions.html
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Postby 00fxd » Tue Apr 02, 2013 7:40 pm

As I said in my earlier post, put them up for auction with conditions. An easy sale to someone who agrees to keep them in reasonable storage conditions. Have some high paid city lawyers on retainer draw up a sales contract to that end and get them sold and looked after asap. Then our city fathers could move on and drag their feet on something else.
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