Don’t panic, but Lawrence the Indian won’t be standing watch in the Stockade today.
At noon, Legere Restorations will carefully ease Lawrence off his cast-iron pedestal and carry him away.
“We’re abducting him,” partner Ray Legere said cheerfully.
Then Legere will restore the pedestal, which is showing signs of wear after 125 years. Lawrence should be back in place in seven to 10 days.
The difficult part is moving the statue, which has come to symbolize one of the Mohawks who encouraged Schenectadians to rebuild after most of their homes were burned down in an attack in 1690.
Lawrence is hollow and likely weighs less than 500 pounds. Still, he must be moved carefully. “I’m not worried about dropping him. I’d be worried about crushing him,” Legere said.
Another company is donating a crane to assist in the relocation.
While Lawrence is gone, Legere’s workers will erect a tent over the pedestal and blast it with baking soda.
“It’s similar to sand-blasting,” Legere said. “We’ll get into every nook and cranny.”
They want to remove every speck of rust before it destroys the base to the point where it can’t hold Lawrence any longer.
“The base is made of cast iron and over the years has started to deteriorate,” Legere said. “It’s not a structural problem at this time, but the Stockade Association wanted to make sure they got to it before it became a structural problem.”
The association is paying roughly $4,000 for the work — a heavily discounted price, Legere said.
“If it were a real job, I can assure you it would’ve cost much, much more,” he said. “But at best this is going to only last five to 10 years before it needs maintenance. That’s metal for you.”
Lawrence himself might get a touch-up too, but not much of one. There’s a rust stain on his forehead and the untreated iron of his bow is causing rust stains, Legere said.
The company would like to remove the stains, Legere said, “but there’s always collateral damage. We don’t want to have a shiny forehead on that nice patina.”
Stockade Association President Mary D’Alessandro-Gilmore said the restoration work has been “on the list” for quite some time.
“It needs to be done because as you know, he is revered,” she said. “But as you know, everything takes time. I’m happy that it’s getting done.”
Lawrence is the focal point of many neighborhood gatherings. He hosts the Christmas tree and the tree-lighting ceremony each year. The flowers at his feet are chosen after lively debate among residents, and pink flamingos are often placed there secretly on Valentine’s Day.
The statue was mass-produced in the mid-1800s and was not intended to be a depiction of Lawrence. It was installed in the Stockade in 1877 but was not named until 1962.