After months of rummaging, research and restoration, a historical sculpture given to the Sarasota Garden Club in the 1930s is again standing off of U.S. 41.
The sculpture of a Japanese lantern was a gift from Ralph and Ellen Caples, and stood on the premises for decades before an unknown incident left it broken and submerged in Tuttle’s Puddle, a pond on the Garden Club property.
John Chrzczonowski, a member of the garden club, took great interest in repairing the sculpture earlier this year. He spearheaded the restoration after a routine cleaning of Tuttle’s Puddle turned up a heavy granite piece that matched a broken pedestal still standing near the water.
Chrzczonowski, with the assistance of some local history experts, was able to track down some of the backstory of the sculpture while searching in the pond for more missing pieces. He was able to locate a majority of the segments — one chunk had to be replicated — and the club raised the funds to restore the sculpture with the assistance of artist Sean Colson.
This morning, a team including Chrzczonowski, Colson and Robert Albritton — who provided the equipment used to lift and place the segments of the statue — began work on re-erecting the lantern. An hour and a half later, the sculpture was standing once again.
There’s still work left to do — some cracks have to be patched, and Chrzczonowski is working on earning a historical designation for the sculpture — but, for the most part, the lantern has been returned to its original state.
“It hasn’t really hit me yet,” Chrzczonowski said about his reaction to finally restoring the statue. “But I am elated.”
Contact David Conway at [email protected].