GLADSTONE - The iconic Native American statues in Van Cleve Park are being restored for a second time after being spray painted and knocked down by vandals sometime last weekend.
"This guy was flat on his face, they had that woman leaning, all the faces were covered in gold spray paint, and there was paint on the back of the bear," said Harry Nelson, a former art teacher, as he motioned to various statues. "They came out here sometime Saturday or Sunday (June 2-3) night we think."
By Monday morning, Nelson was already out repairing the statues from the weekend vandalism. "You should have seen me out here yesterday with the rope and pulleys standing him up," said Nelson, motioning to a statue that had been completely toppled. Nelson just recently finished restoring the statues, which were constructed in 1910 and have been a feature of Van Cleve Park since 1988. The restoration process was to repair the damage caused by the normal wear and tear of being in the elements.
The process included cleaning, repainting and repairing the cement statues.
While the damage caused by the vandals was unnecessary, Nelson believes that it could have been worse.
"We think somebody must have come by, because they would have done much more than they did," he said.
New cedar mulch will soon be added to the display, as well as a new fence.
"We're going to spruce it up a little bit," said Nicole Sanderson, Gladstone Parks and Recreation director.
"A lot of people were very disappointed in the vandalism," said Sanderson. "We do appreciate Harry staying and getting them into the state they need to be in. People like having art in the park, whether it be for Native American heritage or just because it's nice to look at something that's over 100 years old."
The statues were produced by E.H. Levely in Northern Midland County. Each statue was molded after the likeness of an actual person. After their completion, the statues were purchased by W.C. Wickham, a friend of Levely.
Henry Ford attempted to purchase the pieces from Wickham but was unsuccessful. After Wickham's death, his son, Albert Wickham, purchased the statues. In 1988, Albert and Dora Wickham donated the pieces to the city. The family requested that the pieces be publicly displayed on the shores of Little Bay de Noc.
Anyone with information about the vandalism are asked to contact Gladstone Public Safety at 428-3131.