Detroit Icon Getting Makeover

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Happy Birthday, Spirit of Detroit. You're getting a makeover.

The iconic downtown sculpture is going to have tens of thousands of dollars worth of improvements made in time for it to hit the half-century mark.

"The old guy's going to be 50. It's time for some work," said Gregg McDuffee, general manager of the Detroit-Wayne County Joint Building Authority, which manages the Coleman A. Young Municipal Center and its assets. The Spirit of Detroit sits outside the city-county building.

The statue was installed in 1958 and is considered one of the most prominent works of the late Marshall Fredericks.

Time and the elements have worn away some of the statue's green patina, and about a decade ago the statue's thigh was damaged by a vandal's ax. A study last year found the statute, which sits on a 60-ton marble base, was structurally sound although some of the bronze has deteriorated.

By the end of next month, the building authority plans to solicit bids to restore the Spirit of Detroit. Work could start in June and be completed in the fall. The statue would not be moved but would be surrounded by scaffolding and tarps.

The Spirit of Detroit cost $58,000 when it was commissioned, and McDuffee said it could cost about twice that much to fix it. No tax money will be used for the restoration process.

Building authority staff is working with several foundations to find one that would act as conduit for donations, McDuffee said.