At the feet of liberty Barre firm's work will help welcome visitors to NY statue


BARRE — One of the world’s most famous monuments, the Statue of Liberty, soon will feature granite panels manufactured in Barre. Work is under way in the sheds of Granite Importers Inc. of Barre on a large contract for roughly 400 granite panels that will be installed in the renovated base of the New York City landmark that was dedicated in 1886. On Monday, plant manager Justin Colgan checked on just over a dozen stonecutters and sawyers working on the granite veneer panels that will enclose the new stairwells in the base of the Statue of Liberty. Stone chisels chattered on rectangles of Deer Isle granite, shipped to Barre from Maine, and diamond saws sliced larger panels into polygons to fit vertically in the stairwells. The stairwells — and new restrooms being fabricated elsewhere — are part of renovations to the Statue of Liberty that will bring it up to code and allow more visitors to ascend the icon that has greeted countless immigrants to the United States. The statue was closed after the Sept. 11 attacks, then reopened to allow only a limited number of visitors to climb inside the statue itself. It is hoped the renovation will allow much larger numbers to visit the statue’s interior. “We were told the renovations were to be completed by Sept. 1,” said Colgan, “and that there will be some kind of rededication with President Obama after that.” Colgan drove the first of two tractor-trailer loads of the granite panels down to Jersey City, N.J., on Thursday. His truck was too large to make the ferry journey across the harbor to Liberty Island, so he took a ferry from Manhattan and toured the island, proudly telling any worker he could on the work site that the stairwell panels were manufactured in Vermont. He will likely drive the second load down near the end of the month. Colgan said he expects many of his 20 employees to follow at some point, to make the journey to Liberty Island to see firsthand the company’s contribution to the Statue of Liberty’s renovation. About 2,000 square feet of granite veneer in the monument’s base will be from Granite Importers. Colgan said Web visitors to can call up a “CrownCam” and see a live top-down view of the Vermont panels being staged and moved into the base of the statue. Colgan’s grandparents, Jake and Sandy Colgan, founded Granite Importers. Colgan’s father, Bruce, stopped by the South Vine Street shed Monday to check on the Statue of Liberty work, even though he is, technically, on vacation. It was a sign of the importance of the work being done inside and the pride the company feels in the quality of the work it is being asked to complete. Granite Importers has done architectural granite work before on high-profile buildings, from Washington, D.C., to Venezuela, but Justin Colgan said this Statue of Liberty project is just a notch higher than anything the company has done before. “This one has just a different feeling,” he said. “It’s an important feeling. It’s such a famous monument, and such an important place for Americans and especially immigrants to this country.”

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